Will the GOP Snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory on Immigration?

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For the first time in several years the GOP has opened a polling lead on who voters trust more to handle immigration, a clear reaction to President Obama’s overreach on the issue. However, the responses indicate a more nuanced view of immigration policy than this headline might suggest:

Now, 34 percent of voters in the most competitive House and Senate races say they trust the Republican Party more on immigration than Democrats, who had the backing of 31 percent of those surveyed. Thirty-five percent said they weren’t sure which party they trusted more on the issue.

Among voters who identified themselves as independents, 26 percent said they trusted Republicans more than Democrats on immigration, while 18 percent said the reverse. And 48 percent of Latino voters said they trusted the Democratic Party more vs. 27 percent of Hispanic voters who said the GOP is more trustworthy on the issue.

On the issue of unaccompanied minors, nearly half — or 49 percent — of voters said the migrant children should be deported after they have had appropriate judicial hearings. Just 29 percent said the children should be allowed to stay in the United States after going through the legal channels, and 20 percent said they didn’t know.

Obama has really handed Republicans who are running for office a gift in his mishandling of the border issue. It looked for all the world like he and the Democrats were prepared to blow away the Republicans on this issue, but by overplaying his hand on the open borders side, he has now poisoned it for himself and for the Democrats. However, Republicans should not assume that the public is now roughly in the camp of Steve King on this issue. Voters’ feelings about immigration continue to be confusing, contradictory, and governed largely by what words are used to describe the terms of the debate:

Still, the POLITICO poll found robust support for comprehensive immigration reform. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they support an immigration overhaul, while 33 percent said they were opposed.

Comprehensive immigration reform is a key issue for voters, according to the poll. Three out of four voters said reform was either very or somewhat important in choosing which candidate they will support, while 25 percent said it was either not very or not at all important.

Three in 10 members of the president’s party said they disapprove of his performance on the issue, while 70 percent …read more    

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