Politics

Poll: Amnesty is Toxic for Swing Voters, Top Issue For GOP Voters

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Only 28 percent of swing-voting independents support President Barack Obama’s immigration policies, while 59 percent oppose those policies, according to a new CBS poll, which also shows that GOP voters think immigration is a more important issue than Obamacare.

That’s a big problem for Obama, as he heads into a critical election season while promising to impose an unprecedented national amnesty for several million illegals, in the face of opposition from Congress.

GOP-leaning supporters already oppose his immigration policy, by 85 percent to 7 seven percent, while Democrats are split, with 33 percent disapproving and 56 approving of his immigration policies, said the poll of Americans, not voters.

Overall, Americans disapprove of his immigration policies by 57 to 31 percent. That’s much worse than his overall rating, which showed 40 percent approval, and 54 percent disapproval, said CBS.

Those declining poll numbers match recent polls, including a July poll by the Associated Press and GfK Public Affairs.

GOP supporters rated immigration as the most important issue facing Americans, ensuring that any action Obama takes is likely to nudge up GOP opposition.

Eighteen percent of Republicans rated immigration as the top issue, slightly above the 14 percent who consider the economy as the top issue, and twice the 9 percent who say Obamacare is the top issue.

GOP politicians — including senatorial candidates Arkansas’ Tom Cotton, New Hampshire’s Scott Brown, and Michigan’s Mary Lynn Land — are already reacting to the shift in GOP priorities by promising support for hawkish pro-American policies.

Even incumbent Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander is trying to win his tough primary with a TV-ad that declared him an opponent of amnesty. In fact, he voted for the Senate’s immigration bill in June 2010, which would have created a multi-stage amnesty for at least 11 million illegals, and subsequently doubled the annual inflow of foreign workers.

Also, Sen. Jeff Sessions and various advocacy groups that seek lower immigration, are pushing the GOP to focus the 2014 midterm elections on Obama’s immigration policies, via advertisements, speeches and protests on freeway bridges and on streets.

In contrast, Democrats rated the economy more important than immigration, by 26 percent to 12 percent.

The combination of the relatively low 12 percent of Democrats who deem immigration to be a priority, and the 33 percent opposition among Democrats to his immigration policies, suggests that Obama won’t gain much additional ballot box support if he imposes the planned amnesty.

Independents’ attitudes were halfway between the two parties. Twenty-two percent said the economy is most important, while 12 percent said immigration is most important. But that 12 percent score was still the second-most important issue for swing voters.

However, the public remains skeptical about the GOP’s immigration policy, which is an incoherent mix caused by the clashing preference by most voters for reduced immigration and the preference of GOP-leaning business leaders and donors for a greater inflow of foreign workers and immigrants. So far, GOP leaders have not aligned themselves with voters.

The poll showed that only 38 percent of Americans believe the GOP will do a better job on immigration, while 41 percent of Americans believe the Democrats will do a better job.

That result is likely shaped by the public’s view that the Democrats are more likely to “shar[e] your values.” Democrats win that critical empathy vote with a 45 percent score, compared to a 38 percent score for Republicans.

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