Poll suggests immigration could backfire on Republicans

Mi Familia Vota
Mi Familia Vota, who helped commission the poll by Latino Decisions , registering voters in Sunset Park. (Courtesy photo from Mi Familia Vota)

Minority voters do not support the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies and favor Democrats in battleground congressional districts by double-digit margins, according to a poll released Tuesday by Latino Decisions. 

The poll surveyed voters in 61 competitive U.S. House races, including Nevada’s 3rd and 4th congressional districts, and found that Latinos, African-Americans and Asian and Pacific Islanders would rather vote a Democrat into Congress — enough to propel Democrats to a 14-point lead over Republicans, 47 percent to 33 percent.

The poll of 2,045 registered voters was conducted between July 5 and July 14 by Latino Decisions on behalf of Mi Familia Vota, America’s Voice and a coalition of other progressive organizations. The poll’s margin of error is 2.1 percent.

According to poll data, the Democratic lead is strongly linked to voter displeasure with aggressive Republican positions on immigration.

In battleground districts 60 percent of voters, including a majority of white voters, agree that “Trump and the Republicans are increasing hate and racism against Latinos.”

And this year, the poll’s authors say, Latino voter anger over the child separation policy and hostility towards Latinos from the current administration will push them to the ballot box.

“Latinos are tired of being attacked,” said Karina Martinez, communications director for Mi Familia Vota. “Actions by this administration are solidifying a rejection of the conservative narrative.”

The separation of children from the parents at the border due to the current administrations “zero-tolerance” policy was extremely unpopular, overall 73 percent of voters said they were angry about the policy with 74 percent placing the blame on Republicans in Congress.

The poll found Democrats were favored strongly by Latinos, Asian and Pacific Islanders, African Americans and Native Americans. Republicans were slightly favored by whites, 41 percent to 38 percent.

While Democrats enjoy a lead in the poll, Democratic-aligned immigration policies fare even better. The poll found over 70 percent of voters support the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Over 66 percent of voters support legislation that welcomes immigrants, and an overwhelming majority of voters reject the narrative that immigrants are to blame for America’s economic problems. Sixty-four percent of voters oppose the border wall proposed by the Trump administration.

“Overwhelmingly, voters support themes of unity and inclusion. They are tired of hostility, attacks, and division,” said Matt Barreto, co-founder and managing partner of Latino Decisions.

Republicans have been counting on the immigration issue driving the GOP base to the polls in November. And the issue has put Democrats on the defensive, as displayed last week when Nevada Democratic Senate candidate Jacky Rosen was one of only 18 Democratic House members to vote with Republicans on a resolution supporting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Rather than run away from immigration issues, Democrats should embrace them if they hope to win in November, said Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigrants rights group America’s Voice. “Running away from this issue and talking like Republicans doesn’t help you, it actually hurts you,” Sharry said. “The best way to deal with this issue is to lean into it with solutions that work.”

Barreto mentioned Nevada’s own 2010 U.S. Senate race as an example of Democrats getting elected by embracing pro-immigration positions.

“It was a very well know race among the Latino community when a lot of people were counting Latinos out,” Barreto said. “That year Harry Reid campaigned very heavily on the DREAM act and his support for the DREAM act and he made it known where he stood and where his opponent Sharron Angle stood. It was very similar to what we’re seeing now 8 years later.”

Polling showed that Sen. Harry Reid was extremely vulnerable in 2010, but he still defeated Sharron Angle. A flawed candidate who unsettled mainstream voters, Angle ran on severely anti-immigration messages.

Sharry characterized Republican’s rhetoric on immigration as a “cynical strategy” designed to divide voters using racially charged language in order to “divide and conquer.”

That dynamic was playing out in Nevada’s third congressional district Tuesday.

Democratic candidate Susie Lee said her opponent, Republican candidate Danny Tarkanian, was “using immigration as a wedge issue to win elections” after he falsely accused her of standing with the international criminal gang MS-13 on Twitter.

Tarkanian has called for Lee to denounce the “Abolish ICE” movement that emerged as Trump policies separated children from their parents at the border.

“I do not support abolishing ICE, which does important work to protect communities as part of the Department of Homeland Security,” Lee said in a statement. “That said, as with any federal agency, I believe ICE should be held to a high standard of accountability and transparency, and Congress has an important oversight role to play.”

While the poll suggests tactics like Tarkanian’s could backfire in battleground districts like CD3, the findings also help explain why Republicans feel confident about aligning themselves with Trump’s divisive immigration policies and rhetoric. Asked if they were “100% certain you will vote” in November, 61 percent of all voters said yes. The group that was most certain, at 66 percent, was white voters.

Jeniffer Solis
Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.

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