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Survey: Majority of battleground voters oppose current immigration policies

July 30, 2018

The majority of likely voters from Congressional districts considered battlegrounds oppose the current administration’s immigration policies, according to a new national survey.

Nearly 75 percent surveyed indicated they are angry about the separations of children from their parents seeking asylum at the border with Mexico.

“This is the first survey of this election cycle that looks at the perception on immigration issues among all groups, which is (a topic) that has been at the center of the national politics” recently, said Matt Barreto, co-founder of Latino Decisions and professor of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles. “We now have evidence that this is not just a Latino issue but one that is influencing registered voters of all population groups.”

The survey was conducted by the research firm Latino Decisions of 2,045 registered voters between July 5 and 14 in 61 Congressional districts deemed competitive between Republicans and Democrats, including four in Texas. At least 400 voters from each listed ethnic groups were polled.

The majority of respondents blame the Trump administration for the policy that has separated families at the board, including roughly 80 percent of blacks, Asians and Latinos.

Among other findings, 79 percent of responders want to see passage of the Dream Act, a bill that would provide a permanent legal status for qualifying young immigrants that were brought to the country illegally when they were minors. The controversial wall along the border with Mexico is viewed as a bad idea by a 64 percent of respondents.

“We noticed there is a lot of anger and frustration with this administration’s hard immigration policies, and it’s well known that anger is the emotion that correlates to voting at higher rates than other feelings,” Barreto said.

Whether such anger will translate into a penalty vote for Republicans in November is unclear. In the survey, 51 percent planned to vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress on their ballots, while 38 percent said they would opt for the Republican and 11 percent were undecided.

Mark Jones, professor of political science at Rice University, noted that Latino Decisions “is a Democratic-leaning organization” and therefore the poll should be seen under that lens, although he agrees on the findings regarding current sentiments on immigration. The firm conducted the survey on behalf of the organizations America’s Voice, Mi Familia Vota, Indivisible, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and The Asian American and Pacific Islander Civic Engagement Fund, some of which are often aligned with Democratic policies.

A Latino Decisions 2016 poll “was controversial in its assertion about the amount of Latinos that voted for (President) Trump,” he said. That post-election survey said that only 19 percent of Hispanics voted for Trump, while exit polls put the percent closer to 30.

Black-Latino trend

The Latino Decisions survey shows a trend among blacks and Latinos regarding immigration issues. In most questions, African Americans oppose the policies almost as much as Hispanics.

“This result shows significant changes,” he said, considering that blacks are closer to Latinos with their answers than Asians, a group that is heavily impacted by immigration policies.

One element that seems to be is a racial factor where “blacks see what is happening very close to home,” said Henry Fernadez, principal at the African American Research Collaborative, a group of pollsters, scholars and researchers tracking this group’s political engagement.

“We have polled African Americans numerous times and have found that the relationship with Latinos is quite positive, in spite of popular discourses,” Fernadez said.

Fernadez explained that since the 2016 election, their pools show that fearmongering tactics and campaign ads portraying Latinos as criminals are seen by blacks as strategies “that African Americans quickly recognize because of their own history.”

“That kind of messaging that tries to marginalize a portion of Americans against the other because of their race is very well understood by African Americans as a bigger attack against people of color,” he said.

olivia.tallet@chron.com

Twitter.com/oliviaptallet

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