Two Antithetical Polls End Up Revealing Huge Support for Immigration Bill

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 25 2013 11:40 AM

Two Antithetical Polls End Up Revealing Huge Support for Immigration Bill

Shorterly after 9 a.m., a group of pro-immigration reform/pro-Gang of 8 conservatives releases the results of a Winston Group poll about the Senate's bill. This was how the pollster put the question.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

A bipartisan group of senators recently introduced legislation to reform the immigration system. The plan establishes border security measures focused on high-risk areas of the Southern border, requires illegal immigrants to pass multiple criminal background checks, pay fines, learn English and pay taxes before getting in line for citizenship, makes E-Verify mandatory for all employers, and creates a new work visa program that regulates immigration according to unemployment. Would you say you support or oppose this plan to reform the immigration system? (ROTATE) Would you say you strongly (SUPPORT/OPPOSE) or only somewhat (SUPPORT/OPPOSE)?

That's possibly the best possible framing of the reform. Unsurprisingly, 78% of Republicans who heard this description supported the bill.

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Shortly after this poll was sent out, a Republican Senate staffer passed along the (one day old) Fox News poll on immigration. The questions were less precise, with less hand-holding -- and some worse results for the reformers. In two months, President Obama's approval rating on immigration had fallen from 47% to 39%. Sisty-eight percent of people favored border security measures passing the test before legalization occured, which isn't really how the bill works. But then there came this question and result -- trend lines in parentheses.

Do you favor or oppose allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the country and eventually qualify for U.S. citizenship, as long as they meet certain requirements like paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check?
Favor - 78% (+6)
Oppose - 21% (-4)

There's no partisan breakdown, but that's a slight uptick for, basically, the Gang of 8 plan.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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