More than Half Back Immigration Plan; Ratings Weak for Obama, GOP Leaders

By Ryan Struyk

Jul 15, 2014 7:01am
GTY obama boehner sk 140714 16x9 608 More than Half Back Immigration Plan; Ratings Weak for Obama, GOP Leaders

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More than half of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support a White House plan to address an influx of Central American children crossing the border from Mexico, though the president himself receives poor ratings for handling the issue – as do his Republican critics in Congress.

Only a third of Americans approve of the way Barack Obama is handling the issue of undocumented immigrants entering the United States. But even fewer approve of how the Republicans in Congress are dealing with it – 23 percent, including fewer than half of Republicans themselves.

See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

Those poor political ratings aside, 53 percent support the plan to spend $3.7 billion to address the immediate problem of unaccompanied, undocumented children entering the country. Still, sharp partisan divisions mark that view: Sixty-six percent of Democrats support the proposal, advanced by Obama last week, dropping to 51 percent of independents and just 35 percent of Republicans.

Some frustration on the issue goes beyond partisan predispositions. Perhaps indicating public dismay with political gridlock on immigration, four in 10 Americans simultaneously disapprove of how Obama and Republicans in Congress alike are handling the crisis – and half of them disapprove “strongly.”

Further, strong disapprovers of Obama’s work on immigration outnumber strong approvers by a 3-1 margin – and that grows to more than 4-1 strongly negative in terms of the Republicans in Congress in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

Obama’s poor numbers are nothing new: Never has a majority approved of his handling of immigration. Still, Americans have been more likely to trust Obama or the Democrats to do a better job than the Republicans in handling immigration in four ABC/Post polls since March 2013.

Obama’s proposal would use half of a planned $3.7 billion in emergency spending to provide care for children who’ve crossed the border without documentation while their deportation cases are heard, and the rest on speeding those deportation hearings and increasing border security. This poll’s question described these components, without identifying it as Obama’s proposal.

Indeed, among those who support the plan, just half also approve of the way Obama’s handling the situation. Given the partisanship associated with views of the president, either of two outcomes is possible should the plan become more closely identified with Obama: he may gain approval – or it may lose support.

Regardless, despite the push on immigration from the White House, the divided Congress is expected to remain at a standstill on the issue until after the midterm elections. And many voters have other priorities: In an ABC/Post poll last month, 49 percent called immigration highly important in their vote for Congress this year, far behind the 84 percent who said the same of the economy. The budget deficit, Obamacare, “the way Washington is working” and women’s issues also ranked higher than immigration.

GROUPS – Obama’s approval on handling the issue is highest among some of his core support groups, notably (beyond Democrats) liberals and nonwhites. Support for the emergency spending peaks among these same groups – and among young adults – but also far outstrips approval of Obama’s work on the issue among others, including Republicans, independents, moderates and conservatives.

The Republicans in Congress, for their part, get just 48 percent approval in their own party for handling the issue, and even less support, 36 percent, from conservatives. Those numbers drop sharply among independents, moderates, Democrats and liberals alike.

Views among Hispanics are not markedly different from those of all Americans on any of these three questions.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone July 9-13, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,016 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y.

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