Rep. Renee Ellmers’ stance on immigration reform certainly didn’t hurt her in her GOP primary win Tuesday — but it didn’t necessarily boost her, either.
A new poll from a pro-reform group conducted after voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s North Carolina races found that immigration mattered little when they decided who to favor — Ellmers or challenger Frank Roche, who centered his bid on the incumbent’s stance on immigration policy.
Ellmers’ position on immigration — which includes legalization of immigrants living in the United States unlawfully — made no difference for 59 percent of voters in their decision Tuesday, according to the poll. Fifteen percent of those polled said that stance made them more likely to support Ellmers, while 24 percent said it made them less likely.
Of the voters surveyed, 65 percent said they heard not much or nothing about Ellmers’ views on immigration reform, while 34 percent said they heard some or a lot about her stances. And just 6 percent of voters ranked immigration as their top issue when deciding whom to vote for, while 9 percent listed it as a second choice.
“It is clear that immigration was not a top tier issue for voters in this primary,” said Republican pollster Glen Bolger, whose firm Public Opinion Strategies conducted the survey for the pro-reform Partnership for a New American Economy, which was launched by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Immigration reform advocates had kept close tabs on the Ellmers-Roche battle, seeing it as the best — and perhaps the only — test case in the nation of how the issue of immigration would matter in a Republican primary. Roche, a long-shot candidate whose fundraising fell far short of Ellmers, focused his challenge on the two-term lawmaker’s general support for immigration reform.
The poll also showed considerable support for a path to legal status — with conditions — from Republican primary voters in North Carolina’s 2nd District, which Ellmers represents.