Income and education levels played a decisive part in voters approving a proposal to restrict government services provided to illegal immigrants in Arizona.
Voters who didn’t graduate from college and those whose families made less than $50,000 last year helped carry Proposition 200 to comfortable victory on Tuesday, according to an exit poll by the Associated Press.
While a slim majority of Hispanic voters opposed the measure, it still won sizable support from Latinos, who analysts say are as inclined as any other voters to protect their livelihoods.
Even though it focused on government services for illegal immigrants, the proposal offered blue-collar voters the chance to express frustration over competing with illegal workers willing to accept lower pay, politicians and academics said.
“These are people who are working at the lower end of the skills spectrum,” said Marshall Vest, director of economic and business research at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. “It would make sense to me that those with lower education and income levels could feel more directly affected by the existence of illegal immigration.”
The poll of 1,781 voters was conducted for AP and television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.
It included 385 absentee voters interviewed by telephone during the past week and their responses were weighted to represent 42 percent of the total sample—their estimated proportion of the state’s electorate. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, higher for subgroups.
Proposition 200 requires proof of citizenship to register to vote and proof of immigration status to receive some types of government services. Government workers face a $750 fine and up to four months in jail for failing to report when people illegally apply for government aid.
Voters who felt legal immigration levels should remain the same or be increased were split over the measure, the exit poll found.
But nearly two-thirds of those who felt the government should decrease legal immigration voted for Proposition 200.
The poll’s most salient findings came from lower-earning families and voters who weren’t college graduates.
The margin of support was higher among lower-earners than those who made more than $50,000 last year.
College graduates were equally divided over the proposal.
Three in five voters without college degrees favored Proposition 200.
Latino votes for the measure reflect people’s natural desire to provide for their families, said Democratic state Rep. Ben Miranda of Phoenix, an opponent of the proposal.
“Some of them were more adamant about this than native born citizens,” said Kathy McKee, director of the group that sponsored Proposition 200.