Illegal immigrants strongly favor the Democrat Party, according to a new poll, a finding that suggests the mass legalization planned under immigration reform could bode ill for Republican political fortunes.
According to data from the Pew Research Center
released Monday, Hispanic illegal immigrants identified themselves as Democrats 54 percent to 19 percent, when those who leaned toward either party were included.
In Pew's 2012 National Survey of Latinos, 31 percent of illegal immigrants described themselves as Democrats, while only four percent said they were Republicans.
Thirty-three percent said that they are politically independent, 16 percent said they prefer another political party, and 15 percent said they either didn't know or refused to answer the question altogether.
Pew admits that "there's no way of knowing if these predictions are accurate," but that the data could provide some insight into what immigration reform could hold for the country politically speaking. There has been a divide in the GOP
over what the passage of an immigration measure that offers a pathway to citizenship could mean for the party.
However, Republicans polled slightly better among illegal immigrants than among the legal ones.
Hispanics who are citizens or who are legal permanent residents more likely to identify with one party over another than those who are identified as unauthorized Hispanics. Only 35 percent of illegal immigrants said they identified with either party, while 57 percent of those with legal permanent status and 65 percent of foreign-born U.S. citizens said they did.
The longer Hispanic immigrants are in the United States, the number of immigrants that identify with a political party increases. Thirty-eight percent of those who have been here fewer than 15 years identified with a party, while 63 percent of those who have been here more than 15 years do so.
Pew notes that in the 2012 presidential election 71 percent of Latino voters supported the Democrat candidate, President Barack Obama, and only 27 percent supported Republican Mitt Romney.
The gap hasn't always been so wide. By contrast, in the 2004 election, John Kerry earned 58 percent of the Hispanic votes, and George W. Bush earned 40 percent.
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