In U.S., More Relate to Democrats Than GOP on Immigration

In U.S., More Relate to Democrats Than GOP on Immigration

by Lydia Saad

Hispanics heavily favor Democrats on immigration, while whites are divided

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans are more likely to say their views on immigration and immigration reform align with the Democratic Party's than with the Republican Party's policies, although fewer than half relate to either party on the issue.

Party Seen as Closer to Own Views on Immigration, June-July 2013

Much of U.S. policy discussion about immigration and immigration reform is focused on illegal immigration from Latin America, making the subject particularly relevant to U.S. Hispanics. Six in 10 Hispanics agree more with the Democratic Party on immigration, while 26% agree more with the Republican Party. This represents a slightly greater preference for the Democrats among Hispanics than is seen in their general political party identification. Throughout 2012, Gallup found 51% of Hispanics identifying with or leaning toward the Democratic Party and 24% identifying as or leaning Republican.

Blacks also heavily favor the Democratic Party on immigration policy, with 70% saying its policies come closer to their own views on the issue, while 14% name the Republican Party. This represents a slightly weaker favoritism toward the Democrats than blacks show in basic party identification. Whites, on the other hand, are about evenly split in their party preferences on immigration, similar to their overall party ID.

These results are based on Gallup's June 13-July 5 Minority Rights and Relations poll of 4,373 U.S. adults. The survey includes interviews with 1,000 Hispanics and 1,010 non-Hispanic blacks, in addition to 2,149 non-Hispanic whites.

Blacks aged 50 and older are the most likely to say the Democratic Party's views on immigration more closely match their own (76%), followed by younger blacks (67%), older Hispanics (64%), and younger Hispanics (59%).

Whites aged 18 to 49 show a slight tilt toward the Democrats on this question: 44% say their views are more in line with that party, versus 39% choosing the Republican Party. Whites 50 and older are the only racial/ethnic age group to skew the other way, with 46% naming the Republicans and 39% the Democrats.

Party Seen as Closer to Own Views on Immigration -- by Race and Ethnicity, and Age, June-July 2013

Additionally, high percentages of Republicans (85%) and Democrats (89%) identify with their own party on immigration, while independents are about evenly divided.

Party Seen as Closer to Own Views on Immigration -- by Party ID, June-July 2013

Immigration Policy Views Loosely Related to Party Preferences

The same poll found Americans broadly supporting each of four proposals for dealing with immigrants living in the U.S. illegally that are found in the Senate's immigration reform bill.

Notably, those who favor tightening border security and requiring employers to check the immigration status of their employees -- two signature Republican issues -- are about equally likely to name the Democratic or the Republican Party as the one they more agree with on immigration. At the same time, the slight majority of those who favor expanding short-term visas for skilled workers and creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants -- two proposals strongly advanced by the Democrats -- say the Democratic Party's immigration views match their own.

Party Seen as Closer to Own Views on Immigration -- by Support for Specific Immigration-Reform Proposals, June-July 2013

The association between Americans' specific views on immigration and the party they believe more closely represents their immigration views is somewhat stronger when it comes to immigration priorities.

Those whose say that halting the flow of immigrants coming into the U.S. illegally should be the priority are more likely to say the Republican Party's policies rather than the Democratic Party's are closer to their own: 50% vs. 32%. By contrast, those who say the priority should be dealing with immigrants currently in the U.S. illegally identify even more strongly more with the Democratic Party on immigration, 61% to 25%.

Party Seen as Closer to Own Views on Immigration -- by Preference for Which Policy Should be U.S. Government's Immigration Priority, June-July 2013

Bottom Line

The Democratic Party has an edge over the Republican Party in Americans' perceptions of which major party more closely shares their own views on immigration and immigration reform. Much of this, however, reflects straight partisanship, as equally high proportions of Republicans and Democrats prefer their own party. Perhaps more importantly, independents are evenly divided, suggesting that neither party has staked out a meaningful political advantage on the issue. Whites are also divided, while blacks and Hispanics line up with the Democratic Party, which is similar to the patterns seen in overall party ID.

Notably, Americans' preferences on four specific immigration proposals do not perfectly square with the party they name as better reflecting their immigration views. That's because all of the proposals Gallup tested -- those offering opportunity to illegal immigrants, as well as those strengthening laws against illegal immigration -- win supermajority support, and thus don't break sharply along political lines. Perhaps the message is that immigration is less of a rancorous issue than it might appear from the news out of Congress, even if rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats generally do prefer their own party's policies on the issue.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted June 13-July 5, 2013 with 4,373 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, including oversamples of black and Hispanic adults. All respondents had previously been interviewed in the Gallup Daily tracking survey. The total sample is weighted to represent racial and ethnic groups proportionately to their share of the U.S. population. For results based on this sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of error is ±2 percentage points.

For results based on sample of 2,149 non-Hispanic whites, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on sample of 1,010 non-Hispanic blacks, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

For results based on sample of 1,000 Hispanics, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points. (332 out of the 1,000 interviews with Hispanics were conducted in Spanish.)

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, non-response, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cell phone-only/landline only/both and cell phone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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