Poll finds Colorado's rural Republicans surprisingly close to Dems on immigration

By John Tomasic
The Colorado IndependentSeptember 26, 2012
National Rural Assembly Poll results on the presidential race released Monday (pdf) found unsurprisingly that swing-state rural voters preferred Mitt Romney over Barack Obama by 14 points. Also not surprising is that the pollsters found that party identification likely matters more in determining whether or not a position will draw support or opposition from these voters than does the substance of the policy position in question.

Demonstrating the point, 600 likely voters were asked to choose between the Republican and Democratic party platform position statements on immigration. A majority of the rural voters (50 percent to 39 percent) chose the Republican position. When party labels were removed from the same two position statements, however, opinion among the voters swung to support for the Democratic position by virtually the same percentage spread (40 percent to 49 percent).

As Bill Bishop at Daily Yonder put it, "Democrats have a more popular position on immigration in rural America-- until that position is linked with the Democratic Party."

The poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, which targeted voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Greenberg is a left-leaning firm that polls for Democratic campaigns. But Republican-friendly polster Glen Bolger at Public Opinion Strategies helped write and analyze the survey and its results. The poll was commissioned by the National Rural Assembly and the Center for Rural Strategies and was paid for by the Carnegie Corporation.

Bishop provides a short sharp summary of the findings. "Rural voters are all over the map on the immigration issue," he writes.

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) say immigration is “good for America.” A slight majority (45 percent to 42 percent) say immigration is good for the U.S. economy.

Seven out of ten rural voters, however, support laws “like the ones in Arizona and Alabama that allow local law enforcement officers to check the papers of people they suspect are illegal immigrants.” But they also support a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrant children and they oppose (62 percent to 31 percent) a constitutional amendment that would eliminate citizenship for children of illegal immigrants.

Rural voters are less sure that immigration is good for “rural America,” 50 percent to 45 percent. And a majority of rural voters in swing states (50 percent to 37 percent) say immigration is bad for the rural economy.

The closer the immigration question comes to home, the more wary rural voters become. But, basically, rural voters agree, 59 percent to 31 percent, that the “growing diversity of the country is good for America.”

You can see in the poll that rural Americans are open to immigration and ways to work through the problem of illegal immigration.

But then political party intrudes...

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