Seems like good news at first blush, but c’mon. Realistically, how high would these numbers need to be for a Republican president to feel politically safe-ish in tossing several million newly legalized illegals back into limbo? Sixty percent support for rescission? Seventy?
First the good news: 45 percent oppose Obama’s executive action versus 37 percent who support it. Here’s the partisan breakdown (top line is “support,” second is “oppose,” third is “not sure”):
Indies tilt towards the GOP. Same goes for when you ask whether Obama’s successor should take the plunge and actually cancel his order. Top line is “yes,” second is “no,” third is “not sure”:
Overall 42 percent say the order should be eliminated versus 35 percent who say it should be preserved.
How do Latinos feel about this, though? On the first question, whether they approve of O’s order:
Net support of +41. On the second question, whether Obama’s order should be rescinded:
Net opposition of -28. Those are hard numbers for a party whose leadership is terrified of further alienating Latinos, even with whites behind rescission here on balance. And it’s an open question whether whites are objecting to the policy here or merely to the dubious way Obama enacted it. When YouGov asked people whether they support or oppose granting temporary work permits and deferred deportation status to illegal-immigrant parents of U.S. citizens, i.e. the basic planks of Obama’s executive amnesty, they found a split of 50/32. Whites split 47/36 and Latinos split 67/18. Of the various demographics analyzed, only Republicans opposed the policy on balance. See now why I think GOP candidates are blowing smoke when they say they’ll torpedo Obama’s executive order? If they do end up rescinding it, it’ll be in the course of replacing it with some sort of legislative bargain that achieves the same thing.
That’s the bad news. The good news here, at least if you’re a Scott Walker fan, is that a plurality of 39 percent of Republicans say legal immigration levels are too high versus just 12 percent who say they’re too low. Likewise, among the wider electorate, 31 percent of whites say legal immigration currently is too high versus 17 percent who say it’s too low. That’ll help Walker in the primary, probably, and it may help in the general if the GOP is planning to beat Hillary by turning out its base in more robust numbers than Democrats turn out theirs. The problem is … the GOP’s probably not planning to beat her that way; it’s a tall order lately to top Dems in turnout during a presidential election year. And if you look at the crosstabs, you’ll see that the plurality position among all demographics, including GOPers and whites, is that the status quo on legal immigration levels is about right. That doesn’t mean this issue isn’t a vote-getter for Walker — those 39 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of independents who think it’s too high may be highly responsive to a strong pitch on this topic — but it’s unclear if Walker will even make a strong pitch, and whether the various other ways this subject might hurt him will cost him more votes than it gains him. The best-case scenario may be that Walker expressing firm skepticism about legal immigration will gradually make the topic politically safer to debate, which in turn might move these numbers in Walker’s direction. Is he willing to gamble on that, though, when they’re already this equivocal now?