The Partnership for a New American Economy new poll of national and swing state Hispanic voters tests how the issue of immigration influences Hispanic voting patterns. The poll found that while Immigration is not the top issue for Hispanic voters – it trails the issue of Jobs and the Economy by more than 20 percentage points – the immigration issue plays a gateway role that dictates which way many Hispanic voters will cast their vote. While the majority of Hispanic voters currently prefer the Democratic Party’s stance on immigration, the poll also finds many reasons for optimism for Republicans, who could be poised to make large inroads into the Hispanic electorate if they were perceived as supporters of immigration reform.
- Immigration is not the top issue for Hispanic voters, but it is a deeply personal issue: Jobs and the Economy were the top issue for more than twice as many Hispanic voters as was Immigration (37 percent to 14 percent), yet many Hispanic voters reported personal experience with the issue. Thirty five percent of Hispanic voters in swing states reported having an immediate family member or close personal friend who is undocumented, including 47 percent of respondents in Nevada and 44 percent in Colorado.
- Immigration is a gateway issue for many Hispanic voters that may often lead them to vote against candidates who support their views on other issues: Fifty-six percent of Hispanic voters in swing states would be less likely to vote for a Presidential candidate who opposes a path to citizenship or legal status, compared to just 16 percent who would be more likely to vote for such a candidate. This trend holds true among both Hispanic Independents (55 percent vs. 19 percent) and Hispanic Republicans (44 percent vs. 20 percent).
- Thirty percent of Hispanic Republican voters and 37 percent of Hispanic Independent voters in swing states said that they would probably or definitely not vote for a candidate who stood for most of the things they believed in if they took a stand on immigration that they disagreed with.
- Republicans currently stand at a disadvantage with Hispanic voters: Nearly twice as many Hispanic voters in swing states would vote for the Democratic candidate over the Republican candidate (52 percent to 28 percent) if the 2016 Presidential election were held today.
- When Hispanic swing state voters were asked to pair Hillary Clinton against her likely Republican challengers, her margin of victory ranged from 33 percent (Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio) to over 40 percent (Ted Cruz and Rick Perry).
- Republican candidates who support immigration reform have the potential to win a substantial share of the Hispanic vote, especially in key swing states: More than a quarter (27 percent) of Hispanic voters in swing states report no affiliation with either political party, and 65 percent of all swing state Hispanic voters are open to changing their minds on whom they will vote for in the 2016 election. Immigration appears to be a key decider of whether they will. As it currently stands, the voters most up for grabs in swing states – Hispanic Independent voters – prefer the Democratic Party’s stance on immigration over the Republican one by a factor of almost two to one (34 percent to 18 percent).
- Hispanic voters support both reforms to secure our border and reforms to give legal status to undocumented immigrants: While 84 percent of Hispanic voters in swing states think undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship or legal status – including 76 percent of Hispanic Republicans and 81 percent of Hispanic Independents – 85 percent of Hispanic voters in swing states also think that it is very or somewhat important to secure the border.
The poll toplines and crosstabs are available below:
PNAE Hispanic Voter Poll National Toplines
PNAE Hispanic Voter Poll National Crosstabs
PNAE Hispanic Voter Poll Swing State Toplines
PNAE Hispanic Voter Poll Swing State Crosstabs
PNAE Hispanic Voter Poll AZ Crosstabs
PNAE Hispanic Voter Poll CO Crosstabs
PNAE Hispanic Voter Poll FL Crosstabs
PNAE Hispanic Voter Poll NC Crosstabs
PNAE Hispanic Voter Poll NV Crosstabs