Immigration Puts GOP in Tight Spot

Analysis By Senior National Correspondent Jim Avila

Who to please? The new ABC News/Washington Post poll on immigration reform asks that basic question of Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Does the GOP try to broaden its appeal and support what appears to be a very popular issue in immigration reform, with 57 percent of responders behind the so-called "path to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants. That includes 58 percent of crucial independent voters, hhich both Democrats and Republicans need nationally.

Or do individual Republican members of Congress look at the other number in the poll that shows that their base vehemently rejects allowing 11 million undocumented to come out of the shadows and work their way to citizenship. Republicans oppose it by a whopping 60 percent to 35 percent.

The dilemma of course for the national party is that there aren't enough Republicans to win a nationwide election. So while it may be tempting for Republicans on Capitol Hill to stay safe and win their single seat in a comfortable red district or state, that may not be good for the big picture.

Especially when you look at the minority support of immigration reform: 69 percent of nonwhites, including 80 percent of Hispanics and 67 percent of blacks support eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

How can the GOP make inroads among the fastest growing segment of the population while rejecting the most important issue to them.

As our pollster Gary Langer points out, this is truly a conundrum. It is one that potential national candidates are looking at seriously.

It appears Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, both now supporters of a pathway, have answered the question. They are going big.