Monday, November 30, 2015

Immigration May Decide the Republican Nominee

The Republican debates have repeatedly highlighted candidate differences on immigration and the Paris attack placed Syrian refugees on the front page. The issue may decide who is the Republican nominee. The candidates are making clear there is little room for any nuance. This is partially a reflection of the public’s visceral reaction to the Paris massacre, but it also expresses the long-established Republican rank and file hostility to America’s immigration policy.

A poll in the last week shows a majority of Americans opposing accepting Syrian refugees, which corresponded to more than half the states’ governors stating they wouldn’t accept any. Their authority on the issue is not clear, but the politics is clearly controversial for most politicians and has a litmus test quality for Republicans.
  • 56% of the public nationally disapprove of accepting Syrian refugees; 81% of Republicans, 59% of independents (NBC News SurveyMonkey, Nov. 2015)
  • The public is closely divided on the question of building a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexican border (46% favor, 48% oppose), but Republicans are overwhelmingly in favor (73%).
U.S. immigration policy’s linkage with terrorism may give Republicans an advantage with an issue that had considerable downside risk with both immigrant populations and more reasonable voters who can support a path to citizenship if accompanied with sufficient conditions.

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