By Andrew Dugan
Ranks second to economy in general among Hispanics
Over the summer, the percentage of U.S. Hispanics naming immigration as the most important issue facing the U.S. nearly doubled from the first half of the year, as the issue received heavy media attention related to the surge of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America. Concern among the general public about the issue intensified as well, rising over threefold, but Hispanics remained more likely to name this issue as one the country’s top problems.
U.S. Hispanics’ mentions of immigration as the top problem rose from 13% to 25% between the first half of the year and the past three months, while immigration rose from 4% to 15% among all adults. Apart from the importance they place on immigration, there is little difference in how U.S. Hispanics and all Americans describe the nation’s challenges.
Immigration Gains Momentum as a Top Issue for Republican
Hispanic turnout and support will be instrumental in several key U.S. Senate races in November’s midterm elections, but despite the importance of the immigration issue to the Hispanic community, some Democrats have been less than willing to make the subject a major plank of their campaign. But this is, as always, a complicated topic that has put Democrats in a tough spot.
Despite Hispanics’ Democratic bent — 54% of Hispanics in the total January-September sample leaned or identified with the Democratic Party, compared with 29% who identified with or leaned Republican — immigration is actually now more likely to be a top concern among all Republicans. In the past three months, 20% of national adults who self-identify as Republican named immigration as a top issue, compared with 8% of Democrats. In the first half of the year, a nearly identical 4% of Republicans and 3% of Democrats named immigration as the country’s most important problem.
The Obama administration was reportedly considering issuing a series of executive actions that would ease the number of deportations. However, likely a result of pressure from vulnerable Senate Democrats in states such as North Carolina, the administration backed off announcing such measures.
Hispanics are more likely than the general public to see immigration as a major problem facing the country, suggesting that this issue could be a significant factor for many Hispanic voters in the fall election. However, other issues matter to Hispanics as well, especially the economy. The Obama administration may have been trying to specifically appeal to Hispanic voters when it floated the possibility of executive action to repair perceived problems with the current immigration system. After many objections from fellow Democrats, however, the administration has backed away from doing anything before the midterm election. Meanwhile, Republicans now seem more focused on the topic of immigration than Democrats do, though the GOP faces the challenge of attempting to take actions that U.S. Hispanics would support.
This lack of action on policymakers’ behalf could result in a Hispanic surge at the ballot box in November, or, alternatively, it could be a reason why many Hispanics choose not to vote. Regardless, these findings make it clear that immigration remains a potent issue for Hispanics across the country.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of 212 U.S. Hispanics, the margin of sampling error is ±8 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup’s polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.