For example, 60 percent said they “disapprove of Obama bypassing Congress to make the changes” to immigration law, while 38 percent approved.
When asked about the Obama’s impact on the constitution, 68 percent of respondents agreed that “Obama’s use of executive orders and acting without Congressional approval may be permanently altering our country’s system of checks and balances.” Only 20 percent dismissed that concern.
When asked about the threat of more migrations if the amnesty is adopted, 74 percent of respondents said that “easing the immigration laws in this way will result in more people entering the United States illegally.” Only nine percent dismissed that worry.
The intensity of his support also drops as the questions become more distant from Obama.
For example, 72 percent of Republicans said it is “very” likely that “easing the immigration laws in this way will result in more people entering the United States illegally,” while 4 percent of Republicans said they were not at all concerned.
In contrast, 29 percent of Democrats say more illegals are “very likely,” and 13 percent of Democrats said they were “not at all” concerned about more illegals.
That’s a 18:1 divide in the near-unified GOP, and a 2:1 split in a deeply divided Democratic Party.
The same lopsided intensity reappeared when respondents were asked about the impact of Obama’s policies on future presidential power. Overall, 45 percent of respondents said they were very worried, while 20 percent said they were not at all worried.
The detailed cross tabs showed that 73 percent of Republicans, 47 percent of independents and 18 percent of Democrats said they were very concerned.
Only 4 percent of Republicans, 19 percent of independents and 35 percent of Democrats said they were “not at all” concerned.
Other polls show the same intensity gap against Obama’s policies. A November 2014 YouGov poll showed that independents split on the immigration issue, with 33 percent strongly opposing to 17 percent strongly supporting.
This anti-Obama opposition is also concentrated in the midwestern states that the GOP’s presidential candidate needs to win back from Democrats in 2016. The YouGov poll showed that 35 percent of respondents in the Midwest, but only 26 percent of respondents in western states, strongly disapprove of Obama’s amnesty.
The public’s traditional support for the ideal of immigration also shapes responses — and produces contradictory responses that sometimes hide the public’s worries. For example, the Fox poll showed that 74 percent believe Obama’s policies will spur more illegal immigration, even as 66 percent voiced approval for Obama’s policies when they were described as a reciprocal deal.
That 66 percent of respondents said they would “allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country and eventually qualify for U.S. citizenship, but only if they meet certain requirements like paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check.”
That conditional result explains why Obama and his progressive and business allies are careful to describe the amnesty as a reciprocal deal. “What amnesty implies I think in the minds of the American people is that you’re getting something for nothing,” Obama told a group of supporters in Nashville, Tennessee, on Dec. 9.
“When you describe for people that, in fact, you do have to get a background check, you do have to register, you do have to pay fines, you do have to pay back-taxes, then people feel differently… that’s one reason why, by the way, that I’ve said to immigrant rights groups, you have to describe the responsibility side of this and not just the rights side of this,” he said.
In past practice, few of those requirements were enforced. Also, few are required under Obama’s amnesty.
Once the debate is framed around jobs and wages for Americans, not about reciprocity, the polls showed much stronger opposition to immigration.
For example, the poll asked “do you approve or disapprove of the recent changes Barack Obama made to how the United States government will handle illegal immigrants currently living in this country, including allowing more than four million illegal immigrants to remain temporarily in the United States to work?”
That description was endorsed by 54 percent — or 12-points down from the reciprocal-themed question, likely in part because it included the phrases “to work” and “four million.”
The public has long disliked mass immigration, even as it grossly underestimates the annual inflow of migrants and guest-workers. That opposition is skewed by upper-income support for cheap migrant labor.
A growing number of rank-and-file GOP legislators — but still not the GOP leadership — are framing the immigration debate around immigration’s impact on Americans’ wages and jobs.
“More than 200,000 Tennesseans remain out of work, but rather than prioritize their plight, the President is putting the interests of those who have broken our laws ahead of them,” said Tennessee Republican Rep. Diane Black, in a statement prior to Obama’s Tuesday visit to Nashville.
“Why should unemployed Tennesseans have to compete with illegal immigrants for jobs? And why should those who break our laws to come here be rewarded while so many wait to come here legally?” she asked. “This is wrong.”
Several other polls that ask respondents about work and immigration show far lower support for Obama’s policies, and show near-universal support for rules requiring companies to hire Americans before adding more immigrants.
Those work-and-immigration polls evoke very strong reactions from voters — and may have enough clout to allow the GOP to win swing-voters and Democrats in 2016.
For example, a September poll by Paragon Insights for the National Republican Senatorial Committee showed that large slices of the Democratic coalition would be “much more likely” to vote for a GOP candidate who says that “the first goal of immigration policy needs to be getting unemployed Americans back to work — not importing more low-wage workers to replace them.”
Thirty-eight percent of African-Americans, 39 percent of Democratic women, 36 percent of Latinos, 58 percent of retirees and roughly 47 precent of midwesterners said they would be “much more likely” to support a GOP candidate to favor the employment of Americans, according to the poll.
Despite these poll numbers, GOP leaders are reluctant to put themselves at the head of the voters’ parade. Instead, they’re backing business’ cheap-labor demands while trying to show agreement with their voters’ opposition to mass immigration.
That maneuvering is risky, if only because it makes it harder for GOP candidates to win support from swing-voters during presidential years.
At worst, the GOP leadership could zig-zag into the same disaster as the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party, which has lost a large slice of its base to a new low-immigration party, the UK Independence Party.
That process worked much faster in California, which was once dominated by Republicans and elected Ronald Reagan as governor. These days, immigrants have been recruited by the progressive political machine, and they outvote the GOP voters so much that there are no GOP leaders in state-wide positions.
The result is that “California has become increasingly feudal,” says author and professor Joel Kotkin. “By some estimates, the state’s level of [economic] inequality compares with that of such global models as the Dominican Republic, Gambia, and the Republic of the Congo… Like medieval serfs, increasing numbers of Californians are downwardly mobile, and doing worse than their parents.”