Photo: Reuters (Photo : Reuters)
This week a poll was released by Latino Decisions and America's Voice that sought to examine how immigration reform and the methods by which Democrat and Republican Members of the House handle it could impact the outcome of specific key 2014 races.
Participants in the survey included 800 Latino voters in 24 Republican-held battleground districts.
According to the polling numbers, immigration is clearly an important issue that Latino voters want President Obama and Congress to address. Of those polled, 59 percent believe immigration is one of the most important issues among the Latino community. Three-quarters of voters said they feel it's extremely important or very important for Congress and the president to address reform this year.
In these battleground districts, 86 percent of midterm voters and 80 percent of Latinos overall are watching the immigration debate closely through news reports and other means. In these districts, 50 percent of voters said they approve of the job Democrats in Congress are doing dealing with immigration reform, while only 22 percent approve of Republican handling of the issue.
When told to consider the elections for U.S. Congress in November of 2014, and asked whether they would be more likely to support the Democratic or Republican candidate, 61 percent said they would vote Democrat compared to just 19 percent who would go Republican. The remaining voters said they were undecided.
"I think the message for Republicans is very clear: half-hearted measures are not going to solve the electoral problem that they face. There's a press meme that's circulating that says that the Latino vote is a concern for presidential elections but most House members shouldn't have anything to worry about, and that's clearly not the case," said Gary Segura, Principal at Latino Decisions.
"In these 24 House districts, which are competitive, where the Latino populations are growing, where the margins of victory are small, there is in fact a potential loss for Republicans at the House level if they fail to act."
However, according to the polling statistics, Latino voters are likely to give Republicans a second chance if they stop with the excuses and stalling and finally schedule a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.
Among the Latino voters in the battleground districts, 62 percent have voted Republican at some point in their lives.
Half of those polled said they would be more likely to support a GOP House candidate in their district if they were to take a leadership role in passing immigration reform, even if they disagree on other issues.
Additionally, 67 percent would feel more favorable towards Republicans in Congress if House Speaker John Boehner allows a bipartisan vote on immigration reform.
Polling results show that these Latino voters don't want to settle on anything less than a full path to citizenship.
Over three-quarters say that they support an immigration plan that combines border security, verification of workers' status by employers and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. In terms of the border-first concept, however, two-thirds feel that it's just an excuse to block a path to citizenship rather than a legitimate concern.
In terms of legal status vs. citizenship, 79 percent of voters said they support a full pathway to citizenship compared to the 12 percent who prefer legal status without citizenship.
The poll also points out that half-measures just aren't acceptable. Over two-thirds of the respondents say that pushing a bill like the KIDS Act without addressing the status of other undocumented immigrants makes them less likely to support Republicans.
"Latino voters in battleground districts across the country are watching to see how Republicans handle this debate. They want immigration reform for the 11 million and nothing less," said Frank Sharry, Executive Director for America's Voice. "This is a critical moment for the GOP. They can either take this opportunity to make inroads with the fastest growing demographic in the country, or fall back on excuses and half-measures that do nothing but reinforce their current tarnished brand."