An Iowa presidential poll conducted back in April by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a group that advocates for immigration reform, shows that the actual views of Republican caucus goers on the hot-button issues may be different than you might expect.
When likely caucus goers were asked if they would be willing to support a candidate for President who supports a multi-step approach to granting illegal immigrants legal status, 81 percent of respondents said yes.
The steps being discussed in the poll included a requirement to pay a fine, back taxes, learn English and American civics, be financially self-supporting, and pass a criminal background check in addition to securing the border, and implementing an updated workplace employment verification system.
The perception of the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses is that they are typically dominated by staunch conservatives, yet the results of this poll that focuses on the immigration issues paints a much different picture on this particular issue.
Even when asked if they would be willing to support a presidential candidate that supports all of the previous stated immigration reforms but also would allow illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship after waiting at least ten years, the number supporting that position only drops to 74 percent.
The poll also shows that only 30 percent of likely Republican caucus goers believe that all undocumented immigrants living in the United States should be required to leave the U.S. The people who hold that position are fairly firm in their beliefs. Even when told that it would cost taxpayers an estimated $400 to $600 billion dollars and up to 20 years to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants, only 5 percent would change their position.
Immigration is a tricky issue in Iowa. If the issue is not a hot topic of debate nationally, it doesn’t seem to be much of a difference maker in caucus campaigns and local elections. This was the case in 2012 caucuses. The issue played a different role in the 2008 caucuses. In the summer of 2007, immigration reform became a hot topic as the Congress took up the issue. The Republican frontrunner at the time, Arizona Senator John McCain, supported a compromise proposal.
There were a number of factors that caused McCain to shake up his presidential campaign, chief among them was poor fundraising performance, but McCain’s support of immigration reform and how unpopular it was in Iowa at the time, led him to let go of most of his Iowa campaign staff and instead focus on New Hampshire.
This current polling data suggests that, over time, Iowa Republicans have become more open to supporting a number of steps that would address the country’s illegal immigration problem. The only caveat about the current opinions of Iowa caucuses goers on the subject is that, if the Republican controlled Congress chooses to take up the cause, it would instantly be on more people’s radar. For now, the polling from April shows that more people care about taxes, government spending, foreign policy, national security, and jobs and the economy. In the shadow of last week’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage and Obamacare subsidies, it’s safe to assume that immigration policy is currently on the back burner, and it could stay that way for a while.
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