Unreleased Poll: Democrats’ Deep Split On Amnesty

Neil Munro | White House Correspondent

Many Democrats and swing-voters strongly oppose President Barack Obama’s immigration policies, according to previously unreleased information from a poll by George Washington University’s Battleground poll.

The August survey of 1,015 likely voters showed that Obama’s immigration policy faces lopsided “strong” opposition and “somewhat” opposition, yielding 57 percent opposition to 38 percent support.

One of the polling firms sent The Daily Caller data showing how many demographic groups strongly opposed or supported Obama’s immigration policies. That’s valuable data, because campaigns can persuade voters with strong opinions on a particular issue to switch their ballot. Voters who hold “somewhat oppose” or “somewhat support” views are less likely to care about the issue.

The new data showed that 114 “conservative Democrats” split 28 percent strongly against and 23 percent strongly for Obama’s immigration policies.

The data shows that of 163 “mod[erate]/conservative Democrats” 25 percent disapprove and 21 percent approve. Eighty-eight “soft Dems” are split 20 percent strongly against, 34 percent strongly for.

Large slices of critical Democratic-leaning blocs also strongly opposed the president’s immigration policies, the data showed.

The sample of 204 low-income voters in the poll split 46 percent strongly against, 24 percent strongly supportive, even though 51 percent approved of Obama’s job performance.

Union households gave Obama a 59 percent to 39 percent overall positive job approval, but also reported 39 percent strong negative to 24 percent strong positive rating on immigration.

Those deep splits in the Democratic base could be a major problem for Democrats if the GOP decides to rally independents and base voters for the November election.

So far, several GOP candidates are spotlighting Obama’s lax border enforcement policies.

But few GOP candidates are slamming Obama’s very unpopular plan to offer work-permits after the election to millions of illegal immigrants so they can compete for jobs against young Americans. Even fewer GOP candidates are criticizing the nation’s current immigration polices, which boost the labor supply and widen wage and wealth gaps.

The Battleground poll shows that even “traditionally left-of-center voters have figured out what Republican candidates running for Senate must learn and do if they wish to break out of the mid-40s polling rut most of them face: that immigration is a matter of national security, lawlessness AND jobs,” said Kellyanne Conway, a GOP pollster who has polled voters to learn how they view the impact of immigration on jobs and wages.

“To win, a strong message of fairness (to everyone, not just the illegal immigrants) and commonsense is compelling,” she said.

“If I were running in a purplish state, I’d look at that [data] and say to myself, wow, those folks I need to grab (even the 20% of soft Dems who strongly oppose) could be put on my side by highlighting this issue,” said one GOP consultant.

“The hard Ds just don’t seem to be too spun up about the issue which I think argues against a fear of backlash,” he added.

Even if donors retaliate, “the data seems to show you can get to the end — more votes! — by hitting a strong message against amnesty,” the consultant said.

The battleground poll shows strong opposition to Obama’s policies through the Democratic base and among the swing-voters who tend to support Democrats.

For example, 193 independents in the Battleground poll split 2.6 to 1 strongly against Obama’s immigration policies. Forty-four percent strongly disapproved, while 17 percent strongly approved. His job performance rating among those independents was 40 percent.

Fifty-one “ticket splitters” divided 48 percent strong opposition to 5 percent strong support, even though 41 percent approved of Obama’s job performance.

The sample of 52 ideological moderates split 48 percent strongly against, 17 percent strongly for, even though he won 44 percent job approval rating from that group.

Those voters are likely reacting to Obama’s immigration policies, which have sharply reduced border security and minimized deportations of illegals already living the country.

Obama and all Democratic senators supported a Senate bill in June 2013 that would have amnestied illegals, sharply increased the inflow of guest-workers and boosted the legal inflow of foreign workers to more than 3 million per year.

That total is only slightly below the 4.3 million Americans who enter the workforce each year.

So far, only a few GOP candidates have used the immigration issue to boost their numbers. Scott Brown in New Hampshire, Rep. Tom Cotton In Arkansas and Terry Lynn Land in Michigan have hit their opponents for tolerating lax border security, or for allowing migrants to take jobs sought by Americans.

A group linked to Karl Rove also used the issue against the Democratic running against Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. (RELATED: Rove: GOP Establishment Can’t Win Senate Alone)

More GOP candidates have downplayed the issue, even though all sitting Democratic Senators backed very unpopular anti-worker elements in the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill.

On Sept. 28, Joni Ernst, the GOP candidate for the Iowa Senate, declined to hammer her Democratic rival for urging passage of the amnesty-and-guest-worker bill. Instead, she suggested she would support the award of work-permits to millions of illegals.

In Virginia, Ed Gillespie is roughly 10 points behind Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, yet he hasn’t raised the issue.

In Kentucky, GOP leader McConnell is still a few points below 50 percent, yet he has endorsed a new worker-importation law in a TV debate. “This country has been built on legal immigration… We need a worker program that actually works,” McConnell said in his Sept. 8 debate against his Democratic opponent, who moments before had championed a multi-stage amnesty for illegals.

Similarly, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, has downplayed the political opportunity that would be given to the GOP by Obama’s planned post-election executive amnesty for millions of illegals. “I don’t know, these are all hypotheticals,” Priebus told Real Clear Politics on Sept. 8. “I’ve got enough to worry about on a daily basis, let alone worrying about what could happen down the line.”

But Battleground’s new data shows there is lopsided opposition to Obama’s policies among many overlapping subgroups, including voters in states with close elections, swing-voters, “soft Dems,” low-income voters and voters with less likelihood of voting.

The Battleground results match data from other polls, which show strong opposition from all voters, swing-voters, many Hispanics, third-generation Hispanics and Democratic base voters. The polls that shows support for amnesty tend to be funded by industry groups that want to bring in more cheap professionals or blue-collar workers. (RELATED: Zuckerberg Pushes Skewed Amnesty Poll To GOP)

Thirty-two percent of 91 Latinos in the Battleground poll strongly opposed Obama’s immigration policies, while 19 percent strongly support him, matching evidence from other polls. Fifty-nine percent of Latinos approved of Obama’s job performance.

The 172 single childless women in the survey offered 24 percent strong opposition, and 29 percent strong support, along with 59 percent support for Obama’s job performance.

The 196 younger voters aged 18 to 34 divided 28 percent against, 23 percent for, even though 56 percent of that group gives him a positive job-performance rating.

The battleground data also showed that the 634 people who are extremely likely to vote split 51 percent negative to 18 percent positive on the issue.

The 243 “very likely” voters split 35 percent strong disapproval to 20 percent strong approval, and the 138 “somewhat likely” voters split 39 percent against, 15 percent for Obama’s policies.

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