Posted on July 23, 2013

Are Unauthorized Immigrants Overwhelmingly Democrats?

Eileen Patten and Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew Research, July 22, 2013

As Congress debates immigration reform, some political leaders and analysts have speculated that there will be “an electoral bonanza for Democrats” if the nation’s estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrantsthree quarters of whom are Hispanics–eventually are granted the right to vote.

While there’s no way of knowing if these predictions are accurate, the data provide some insights. In 2012, the Pew Research Center’s National Survey of Latinos found that among Latino immigrants who are not U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents (and therefore likely unauthorized immigrants), some 31% identify as Democrats and just 4% as Republicans. An additional 33% say they are political independents, 16% mention some other political party and 15% say they “don’t know” or refuse to answer the question.

When one takes party “leaners” into account (i.e., those who don’t say they identify with one of the major parties, but in a follow-up question say they feel closer to one party than the other), about half of unauthorized Hispanic immigrants either identify with (31%) or lean towards (23%) the Democratic Party, while about two-in-ten identify with (4%) or lean towards (15%) the Republican Party.  About a quarter (27%) do not identify with or lean towards either party.