Latino Decisions released a new national poll today that found overwhelmingly Latino voters are following the immigration reform debate in Congress and that actions taken on the immigration bill directly influence how Latinos evaluate both political parties. The poll was sponsored by America's Voice, and found that overall, 80% of Latino voters are following news about the Congressional debates on immigration reform, and that 78% say it is very or extremely important for Congress to pass an immigration bill with a path to citizenship in 2013. However, when it comes to the specifics of the bill, Latino voters uniformly reject the notion of a 'border-security-first' approach with 81% saying a path to citizenship and border security should happen simultaneously. The survey of 500 Latino registered voters nationwide was conducted May 25-June 1 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.4%. Full results of the poll released June 6 can befound here and the complete Webinar slide deck is here.
Perhaps one of the most important findings from the poll was that all major actors in the immigration debate stand to gain or lose, based on their positioning on the current immigration bill. For example, when half our sample was asked if they approve of President Obama's handling of immigration policy 28% said strongly approve. However, the other half of our sample was randomly read a statement that Obama had pressed Congress to move quickly on immigration reform and directed his staff to work hard on making sure the immigration bill passes. Respondents who learned about the President's advocacy on the immigration bill gave him a 52% strongly approve rating, a 24 point increase over the control group which received no information and were just asked for basic approval. The same finding held for Congressional Democrats and Congressional Republicans. Democrats saw a +23 point boost in Latinos who "strongly approve" when respondents learned that all 10 Democratic Senators on Judiciary voted in favor of the bill. Republicans saw a +26 point increase in overall approval (from 27 to 53) when Latinos learned that 3 Republican Senators joined Democrats on Judiciary in voting yes and helped move the bill forward.
Finally, the poll demonstrated once again that support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants can directly effect Latino voting patterns. When asked if they would be more likely, or less likely to support a Republican candidate who took a leadership role in support immigration reform, 45% of all Latino voters said they would be more likely to vote Republican.
Even among Latinos who self-identify as Democrat, 44% say they would consider voting for a Republican who took a leadership role in advocating for the path to citizenship. If Republicans back away and the bill becomes a "mostly Democratic" effort then the Democrats can improve, even increasing the 2012 support among Latinos. Overall 63% said they would be more likely to vote Democrat if the Democrats lead on the immigration issue, including 1 out of 4 Latino Republicans, who said they would be more likely to vote Democrat next time around if the Dems are the ones pushing the immigration bill.