At Brookings, William A. Galston analyses data from “a massive rolling survey of more than 42,000 Americans conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute” and concludes it could mean some very bad news for Republicans.
Galston, a former policy advisor to President Clinton and presidential candidates and Brookings Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, explains that “strong majorities of Americans–Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike–favor immigration reforms that would allow immigrants living in the United States illegally to qualify for citizenship if they meet certain requirements.” Further,
There are partisan differences, of course. 72 percent of Democrats support a path to citizenship for immigrants living here illegally, compared to 62 percent of Independents and 52 percent of Republicans. Conversely, 30 percent of Republicans opt for identifying and deporting them, compared to 19 percent of Independents and only 11 percent of Democrats. Still, support is strong across the board. For example, 54 percent of white evangelical Christians favor a path to citizenship.
…In a possible harbinger of the general election this fall, views on immigration vary widely by geographical location. The West and Northeast are more positive than negative about the impact of immigration; the reverse is true for the South and Midwest. Majorities of Americans in 21 states believe that immigration is a net plus for the country, as do pluralities in 20 additional states. Pluralities in 6 states endorse a negative view of immigration, while 3 states are statistically tied.
…On the other hand, the positive view of immigration enjoys majority support in crucial swing states such as Colorado and Florida and a near-majority of 49 percent in Virginia. Support for this view is strong even in long-time red states such as Arizona (55 percent), Texas (52 percent), and Georgia (50 percent)…
“So Republicans may have a fight on their hands in states they have long taken for granted,” says Galston, “especially if immigration becomes a more prominent issue in the campaign.” And if first or second generation Americans organize opposition to restrictive immigration policies, “Republican candidates who are eager to discuss their opposition to comprehensive immigration reform may ultimately regret that strategy come November.”