Poll: Bush Base Erodes on Immigration Debate

Skills

There's further division on another aspect of immigration reform — the idea of giving preference to legal immigrants who have needed skills, rather than to those who have a sibling, parent or grown child already living here legally. Overall, Americans split evenly on which is preferable — 35 percent for skills, 34 percent for family, with the rest further split between preferring both equally as criteria, or neither.

Among groups, women are 11 points more apt than men to stress family ties, while men are nine points more apt to focus on skills. And there are political splits here as well; in the sharpest gap, Republican men by 2 to 1, favor job skills more than family ties as a criterion for entry, while Democratic women take the opposite position, by a 13-point margin. (Substantial numbers of Republicans and conservatives — one in five — say neither should be a criterion.)

Age

Beyond politics, there are substantial differences among other groups in some views on immigration. In one notable division, young adults are much more favorably disposed toward illegal and legal immigrants, alike.

Younger adults are more than twice as likely as seniors to say illegal immigrants do more to help than to hurt the country. And by a 2 to 1 ratio — 64 percent to 33 percent — people age 18 to 29 support giving illegal immigrants the right to apply for legal status. That falls to about an even split among middle-age adults, and seniors oppose it by nearly a 20-point margin.

On legal immigration, Americans younger than age 40 broadly support significantly expanding the guest worker program, 61 percent to 34 percent. People 40 and older by contrast, divide evenly on the idea.

There are differences among other groups as well. The idea of a legal status program is somewhat less popular (although not broadly so) among less educated and lower income adults. And 55 percent of evangelical white Protestants (another core Republican group) oppose the idea, while, for comparison, 55 percent of nonevangelical white Protestants support it.

Unions

Some unions have viewed immigrants as competitors for jobs and a downward force on wages. The differences between people living in union and nonunion households is fairly muted — possibly reflecting the emergence of more immigrant-friendly service industry unions, with immigrant members.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone May 29, 2007 to June 1, 2007, among a random national sample of 1,205 adults, including an oversample of blacks, for a total of 284 black respondents. The results have a three-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

Click here for PDF version with full questionnaire and results.

For more ABC News polls visit the Poll Vault at http://abcnews.com/pollvault.html.

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