Earlier today, Gallup released the latest results of an ongoing poll about immigration—a topic GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush described as a “wedge issue” during last week’s Republican debate.
Bush’s “wedge issue” characterization is not that far off, if you take into account what Gallup shared as part of its Minority Rights and Relations survey. Here is the topline:
“The U.S. public demonstrates no clear preference on what U.S. immigration levels should be. On this contentious issue, 40% say levels should remain where they are, but only slightly fewer (34%) advocate a decrease in the stream of immigrants. One-quarter of the country prefers an increase in immigration levels, the sole response of the three to see a general increase in support over the past 15 years.”
If you look back to the beginning of when this poll started, the push for less immigration peaked at 58% in 2002 a few months after the 9/11 attacks. Support for more immigration was only at about 8% around the same time. Why the changes 13 years later?
Could it be that this country has is getting more and more Latino? More from Gallup:
“Preferences for changes in immigration levels vary considerably by the respondents’ race or ethnicity. Hispanics —half of whom say they are immigrants themselves— are most likely to say immigration levels should be increased (36%), while non-Hispanic whites offer the least amount of support for that proposition (21%). Blacks fall in between the two, at 30%. Despite these differences, the overall trend is similar for all three groups. Support for allowing increased immigration levels hit a low ebb for all races/ethnicities in the years immediately after 9/11, and climbed to new or nearly new highs in 2015.”
Nonetheless, does this mean that immigration and the politics surrounding this very contentious topic will begin to show some signs of alignment? It is too early to tell, but a Pew poll from late spring would suggest that the “wedge issue” will still remain a “wedge issue” for the 2016 elections, especially when the topic of immigration focuses on the issue of the country’s undocumented population. A few things to note about the Pew findings:
“…most Americans (72%) continue to say undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. should be allowed to stay in the country legally, if certain requirements are met.”
“About half (51%) say immigrants today strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents, while 41% say immigrants are a burden because they take jobs, housing and health care. The share saying that immigrants strengthen the country has declined six percentage points since last year.”
“A majority of Republicans (56%) support a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. At the same time, far more Republicans say immigrants are a burden on the country (63%) than say they strengthen the country (27%).”
So the question remains: where does this country stand on immigration? Depending on who you support and how the immigration picture is presented, this “wedge issue” is just as partisan as it has ever been.
What do you think of the Gallup and Pew polls? Tweet me @julito77 with your thoughts or add your comments below.
Main photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images. Charts via Gallup and Pew.