Poll Shows Democrats Lose Swing Voters Over Amnesty

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Voters will side with the GOP if they fight President Obama’s effort to print work permits for millions of migrant workers, according to a new poll.

The large poll shows that 47 percent of the 1,593 respondents approve of Obama’s overall performance — but also shows lopsided opposition to his amnesty among the critical independent voters and lower-income voters that the GOP needs to persuade and turn out in 2016.

Just 19 percent of 691 people who earn less than $50,000 a year strongly support Obama’s amnesty move, while 40 percent strongly oppose. One in six of 693 blue-collar respondents, or 15 percent, strongly supported Obama’s decision, while 47 percent strongly opposed it.

The Paragon Insights poll gives cautious GOP senators an armory of darts in their pending effort to pin Democrats to Obama’s unpopular amnesty policy.

By the end of February, the Senate’s GOP leadership is expected to force a floor vote on a House bill that would defund Obama’s November amnesty, and restore enforcement of many immigration laws that he and his deputies have ignored since 2010.

The amnesty is strongly backed by Democrats, progressive, business groups, Hispanic advocacy groups, most reporters covering the issue and by the cannery operators and meatpackers who want a reliable source of cheap migrant labor.

“This striking polling data underscores just how badly American workers are hoping Congress will protect them from the President’s imperial edicts,” said Stephen Miller, communications director for Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

The poll is a problem and an opportunity for the GOP leadership, which is struggling to balance the business demand for more cheap migrant labor, and the voters’ emotional demands for better jobs and higher wages.

If the GOP sides with the high-immigration alliance of business executives and Democratic progressives, “history may record this as the biggest missed opportunity a political party has ever faced,” said a Hill staffer.

It is also a problem for Senate Democrats, who need to pick up five GOP seats in the 2016 election to regain a Senate majority. High profile support for Obama’s amnesty won’t help them hold the four Senate seats in red states in 2016. On Tuesday, all 46 Senate Democrats tried to scare off GOP senators by signing a letter saying they would oppose defunding of Obama’s amnesty.

The poll reported that 54 percent of 563 independents, 29 percent of 575 Democrats and 81 percent of 455 Republicans said they would support “Republicans in Congress taking away federal funding for this executive order.”

The defunding proposal was supported by 58 percent of 524 middle-income people, 45 percent of 691 lower-income people, 41 percent of 142 Hispanics and 55 percent of 673 blue-collar respondents.

In the Midwest, whose voters will likely tip the presidential election to the winner in 2016, 28 percent strongly support defunding, while 23 percent strongly oppose defunding. Twenty-four percent somewhat support the defunding, and 14 percent somewhat oppose the defunding.

Among western voters, 35 percent strongly support defunding, while 26 percent strongly oppose defunding.

In most questions, roughly 10 percent of respondents declined to give an opinion.

The strong support for Obama’s aid to illegal immigrants is concentrated among male Democrats, liberals, post-graduates and younger voters — nearly all of whom will vote for whoever wins the Democratic nomination.

The strong support for defunding the amnesty is driven by lopsided opposition to Obama’s amnesty program, which would give work-permits to perhaps five million migrants who entered the country as children or who have U.S.-born children, and also would end repatriations for nearly all 12 million illegals in the country.

In turn, that opposition is partly based on the public’s personal and private assessment of immigration’s economic impact on jobs and wages, and on their communities lifestyle and culture.

In November 2014, one in every five U.S. jobs was held by a foreign-born worker, up from one-in-six jobs in January 2010, according to federal data highlighted by the Center for Immigration Studies.

The public’s souring attitude toward immigration is partly offset, however, by voters’ public support for the traditional ideal of immigration and for hard-working immigrants.

Polls by business groups that seek more immigration can usually use this public support for the ideal to pump up apparent support for an amnesty.

But in the privacy of the voting booth, voters tend to subordinate the traditional ideal to the economic interests of themselves, their children and their peers. For example, in November, Oregon voters increased the Democrats’ power in the state House and reelected all incumbent Democrats to Congress, yet they also voted two-to-one to cancel a law that allowed illegal immigrants to get drivers’ licenses.

The new Paragon poll showed that only nine percent of 271 independent women strongly support Obama’s November action, which was described as “allowing as many as four million undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation and seek jobs in the United States.” Forty-three percent of the independent women strongly opposed Obama’s action.

Among 141 Hispanics, 34 percent strongly support and 21 percent strongly oppose the action.

When the issue is tied to Americans’ jobs and wages, public support for Obama and his Senate Democratic allies is still shrinking.

Seventy-one percent of registered voters said they would support “Congress passing new legislation that strengthen the rules making it illegal for businesses in the U.S. to hire illegal immigrants.”

That view was shared by 70 percent of 563 independents, 66 percent of 463 moderates, 65 percent of 691 people who earn less than $50,000 a year and 56 percent of Hispanics, and 66 percent of 451 urbanites.

Thirty percent of Obama voters strongly support news laws, as do 26 percent who approve of his performance, 45 percent of self-employed people, 51 percent of blue-collars, 26 percent of Hispanics, 30 percent of Democrats, 44 percent of independents and 66 percent of Republicans.

Even 57 percent of Democrats would support new laws, while 32 percent would oppose those laws.

The poll shows Hispanic opinion as somewhat contradictory. Fifty-six percent of Hispanics want tougher laws against the hiring of illegals, but only 41 percent want Obama’s amnesty to be defunded.

The two-tier response is visible in other polls, suggesting that Hispanics voters want the illegal immigrants that they know to be allowed to stay, and want the federal government to build up barriers to the next wave of illegals.

The Paragon poll matches results in other polls, including the 2014 Battleground poll and a 2014 poll by Kellyanne Conway.

A mid-January poll by The Washington Post showed that 57 percent of registered voters, 54 percent of independents and 89 percent of Republicans “think Obama’s action on immigration… [should] be blocked.”

Even a pro-amnesty poll funded in 2014 by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg showed that 78 percent of Hispanic respondents support “substantially increasing security among US-Mexican border.” Seventy-seven percent support rules requiring companies to check the employees work eligibility, and 76 percent support a rule to identify people who try to overstay their visa.

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