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In each of these four states, voters:
- Overwhelmingly support what has been called Comprehensive Immigration Reform, including a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants.
- Have a positive view of undocumented immigrants, believing that they have come here to work and seek a better life, are not taking jobs from American citizens and are not interested in receiving public handouts.
- Blame the federal government and business for the broken immigration system, and do not blame the immigrants themselves.
In each of the four states, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama is performing significantly better now than U.S. Sen. John Kerry did with Hispanic voters in 2004. The findings of these four polls are consistent with other public polling and election data, showing that:
- The public has already embraced Comprehensive Immigration Reform as a pragmatic and effective way of fixing the broken immigration system.
- The issue of immigration remains an important issue to voters, particularly Hispanics, and Democrats and Barack Obama are more trusted to handle the immigration issue than U.S. Sen. John McCain and the Republicans.
- John McCain has been unable to distance himself from the recent collapse of the Republican brand with Hispanic voters.
- The dramatic swing of Hispanic voters to Senator Obama in Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada with a total of 46 electoral votes has helped turn these previously red states, all critical to Bush’s narrow victory in 2004, into competitive swing states this year.
- But in each state, 14 percent to 20 percent of the Hispanic electorate remains undecided, which translates into a two percent to six percent of the statewide vote in each state – a percentage significant enough to tip dead even states into one camp or the other.
These findings suggest that in these states:
- Embracing Comprehensive Immigration Reform as a pragmatic, effective way to fix the broken immigration system can be a winning issue for candidates and elected officials.
- Immigrants are not “the problem.” The broken immigration system is. Efforts to “blame the immigrants” will not work as the public has a very positive view of the undocumented immigrants themselves and the contributions they are making to America. The Republican Party’s own mismanagement of this issue in recent years confirms this finding.
- The Hispanic vote may very well determine the Presidential winner in these four states. Given how close the election is, this may determine the outcome of the Presidential race itself.
A final note on terminology: Different groups and individuals use the term “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” to mean very different things. In these polls, we asked: “Would you support or oppose a comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens border security, sets up an employment verification plan, establishes serious criminal penalties for employers that hire illegal workers, creates a new visa program for 200,000 workers annually, substantially increases the number of family visas available for the immediate relatives of legal immigrants, and grants illegal immigrants conditional legal status for six years and then a path to permanent residency and citizenship if they meet certain requirements?”
NDN has a history of fighting for immigration reform. NDN has demonstrated its commitment to achieving a sensible immigration system, in part, by spending record sums in media campaigns designed specifically to counter anti-immigrant campaigns. Similarly, as a cornerstone of NDN’s Hispanic Programs, NDN has regularly hosted forums with members of both chambers of Congress.
For more information on NDN’s work and analyses on Hispanic issues and electoral and demographic trends, please read our May 30, 2008, report, Hispanics Rising II, as well as last year’s article in Mother Jones, The 50-Year Strategy.