Analysis: Obama's Inaugural Address Spoke to Younger, Browner Nation

Immigration

"Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country." -- President Obama.

Latino voters have long supported immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented. And in 2012, they comprised 10 percent of the overall electorate for the first time ever.

And just as Latino voters are growing in number and influence, there are signs that the rest of the nation has reached a tipping point on this issue and begun to move in that direction.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research survey released Tuesday, 53 percent of Americans want the main focus of federal immigration reform to include a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants instead of mass deportation. Forty-three percent disagreed. By comparison, in 2011, 55 percent of Americans said that deporting undocumented people and stopping the flow of illegal immigration should be the government's top priority.

That's consistent with other surveys, as well. For the first time in NBC's polling, a majority of Americans backed a pathway to legal status for the undocumented. A November ABC News/Washington Post survey also found that 57 percent back allowing undocumented immigrants to earn legal status.

Support for legalization is very high across Obama's groups of core supporters, according to the ABC poll, including all non-whites (68 percent) and young adults (69 percent). But even among non-Hispanic whites, 51 percent now back a pathway to legal status.

It's far from a given that Obama will be able to accomplish his goals on all the issues he laid out in his inaugural address. On the surface, for example, all indications point to a bipartisan deal on immigration reform. But a debate in Congress over core issues like the final status of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. is still expected to spark a contentious debate.

And that's not to mention the far more divisive issues that Obama called out such as entitlements and climate change.

But Obama's address spoke to a nation that is rapidly changing its views on some of the fundamental social issues that have defined our politics for a generation. And those changes would not have happened without the political coming of age of a younger and browner America.

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