Poll: Majority of voters back Obama shift on immigration policy

A sizable majority of voters supports President Obama's decision to halt the deportation of some younger illegal immigrants, a new poll finds.

Sixty-four percent of likely voters said they approved of Obama's policy change in a Bloomberg National Poll released Tuesday. Thirty percent surveyed said they disagreed with the decision.  

ADVERTISEMENT
The results highlight the challenges presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney and his party face on the contentious issue.

Obama's announcement played well with independent voters, who backed the decision by 66 percent to 26.

Members of the president’s base registered strong approval for the policy, with 86 percent in favor. A majority of likely GOP voters, at 56 percent, however, opposed the shift.

Obama announced last week that the administration would stop deporting many illegal immigrants who entered the country at a young age.

The policy, which could affect as many as 800,000 immigrants, would allow those under the age of 30 who have lived in the United States for five years, have no criminal history and either graduated from high school or served in the military to remain in the country. 

The move could bolster Obama’s support among Hispanics, who hold sway in many key swing states. Obama won Hispanic voters in 2008, and while Republicans have intensified outreach efforts, polls show Romney trailing badly with the fast-growing demographic. 

A poll released Monday by Latino Decisions-America’s Voice after the decision was announced found Hispanic voters in five swing states more enthusiastic about backing Obama. Earlier polls had shown Romney closing the gap with Obama in those states.

Romney’s campaign has been cautious in its response to the president’s decision. Romney has criticized Obama’s policy change as political and said that the move could hamper efforts at forging more comprehensive immigration reform with Congress.  

While Romney has not said if he would repeal the decision if elected president, he has said he prefers a “long-term solution” to immigration and signaled openness to halting some deportations. 

“I would make sure that by coming into office I would work with Congress to create a long-term solution for the children of those that have come here illegally,” he said in an interview with CBS aired Sunday.

During the primaries, the former Massachusetts governor took a hard line against illegal immigration to appeal to the conservative GOP base. Romney has since tried to increase his appeal among Hispanic voters, a move complicated by Obama’s new immigration policy.

The Bloomberg poll was conducted from June 15 to 18 and has a 4 percent margin of error.