Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup, September 9, 2015
Twenty percent of U.S. registered voters say they will only vote for a candidate who shares their views on immigration, with another 60% saying it will be one of many important considerations they take into account. Registered voters who are Republican, first- or second-generation immigrants or Hispanics are more likely than others to say sharing a candidate’s position on immigration is a must in order to win their vote.
The question was included in Gallup’s Minority Rights and Relations poll, conducted June 15-July 10. This is the first time Gallup has asked the question about immigration, so it is not known whether voters’ orientation to the issue today is different from the past.
Earlier this year, Gallup found that 19% of registered voters would only vote for a candidate who shares their views on another highly divisive issue–abortion–which is similar to the percentage who say they must agree with a candidate on immigration (20%). But fewer voters said abortion would be one of many important factors to their vote (49%) than say this about immigration (60%), indicating immigration is broadly more important than abortion as a potential make-or-break issue for candidates.
The basic results by party don’t alone indicate whether a more moderate candidate on immigration (such as Jeb Bush or any of the Democrats) or a hard-line candidate on immigration (most notably, Trump) would be more appealing to voters for whom immigration is a make-or-break issue. However, analyzing voting preferences by voters’ views on immigration policy indicates it is not necessarily the hard-liners on immigration who are most likely to require agreement on the issue.
Specifically, 21% of registered voters who say all illegal immigrants should be deported say they will only vote for a candidate who shares their views on immigration, essentially matching the national average. Those who favor allowing illegal immigrants to stay and work for a limited time are a bit more likely to say their chosen candidate must agree with them on immigration.
Currently, 8% of Americans name immigration as the most important problem facing the country, compared with 6% before Trump entered the race, which suggests his presence has not greatly elevated the issue as a priority for voters, and it may still not be as important of a factor in the election as some of the other issues like the economy and the government.