Survey Finds Immigration Not a Priority Issue in Election

Posted: November 3, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

A statewide survey of registered voters in Virginia by the Mason Project on Immigration and the Center for Social Science Research has found that despite strident opposition to unauthorized immigrants in some areas, prospective voters do not rank immigration as a priority issue in Tuesday’s general election.

Though the survey revealed trends in favor of jailing and deporting unauthorized immigrants, it also found that a plurality (44.4 percent) favors opening pathways to citizenship for those with jobs.

Completed eight days prior to Election Day, the survey also showed Democrat Barack Obama with a 4 percent lead over Republican John McCain.

Survey Methodology:

The telephone survey was conducted between Oct. 18 and Oct. 26, 2008. The survey sample size was 527 with a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points, and the dataset was weighted by race representative of the population of Virginia. Calls were made from a randomly selected list of registered voters in Virginia.

This project was designed and implemented by graduate students in the School of Public Policy and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. The Mason Project on Immigration is a faculty research project of Mason’s Center for Social Science Research.

Survey Results—General Issues:

When asked who they would vote for if voting today:

Obama: 46.3%

McCain: 42.7%

For respondents who identified themselves as undecided voters, they were asked which candidate they were leaning toward:

Obama 56.3%

McCain 43.7%

Respondents were asked about a number of issues and their importance in influence how they might vote. The following were the top five responses from the list. The total percentages reflect those who responded “very important” and “important”:

The current economic crisis in the U.S.: 90%

Finding alternative fuel sources: 84.9%

The war in Iraq: 83.3%

Education: 81.8%

Health care: 78.7%

Survey Results—Immigration Issues:

The second portion of the survey examined respondent opinions on a number of immigration issues. For each of the following statements, respondents were asked to express agreement or disagreement using a five-point scale. The percentages listed below reflect those who responded to the statement either “agree” or “strongly agree.”

Unauthorized immigrants should be arrested and put into jail to deter others from entering the country illegally:

38.4% agree/strongly agree

30.2% disagree/strongly disagree

All unauthorized immigrants should be deported immediately:

44.6% agree/strongly agree

36.6% disagree/strongly disagree

Unauthorized immigrants should have no access to government services, including health facilities:

49.6% agree/strongly agree

30.1% disagree/strongly disagree

Unauthorized immigrants working in the United States should never be allowed to become citizens:

17.6% agree/strongly agree

60.1% disagree/strongly disagree

Unauthorized immigrants working in the United States should be authorized and allowed a path to citizenship only if they pay a fine:

19.6% agree/strongly agree

52.9% disagree/strongly disagree

Unauthorized immigrants who have jobs should be able to become citizens if they want to:

44.4% agree/strongly agree

28.6% disagree/strongly disagree

Unauthorized immigrants who have jobs should be required to become citizens:

40.9% agree/strongly agree

35.8% disagree/strongly disagree

Anyone who wants to be a U.S. citizen should be allowed to come to the United States:

23.8% agree/strongly agree

54.7% disagree/strongly disagree

Children of unauthorized immigrants who grew up in the United States should be considered legal residents if they get a high school diploma and either attend college or get a full-time job:

49.8% agree/strongly agree

23.6% disagree/strongly disagree

According to the 14th Amendment, anyone born in the United States is a U.S. citizen. We should change the Constitution so that children of unauthorized immigrants born in the United States should not be considered citizens:

22% agree/strongly agree

60.2% disagree/strongly disagree

Complete data can be accessed online through the Center for Social Science Research web site.

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