Respected pollster and commentator John Zogby tells Newsmax that the Supreme Court’s decision on Arizona’s immigration law is a “victory for Arizona” in the short term — but could benefit the Obama campaign by increasing his support among Hispanics.
Zogby also says most Americans want to see the high court strike down Obamacare’s individual mandate, and such a ruling could jeopardize the entire healthcare reform bill.
Zogby is a best-selling author and senior analyst and managing director of JZ Analytics, a market research and opinion firm, and the founder of the Zogby poll.
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The Supreme Court on Monday issued its ruling on the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration law, striking down most of the law but upholding its most controversial provision: Requiring state and local police officers, during routine traffic stops, to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect could be in the country illegally.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Zogby was asked if the decision is a victory for Arizona or for the Obama administration, which opposed the law.
“It’s clearly a victory for the state of Arizona,” he declares.
“In the short term it upheld, really, what was the signature piece of the law. At the same time, it’s a victory for the Obama campaign in the sense that the president has already done a good job rallying Hispanics in his previous statement regarding illegal immigrants and the children of illegal immigrants.
“What you’re going to see is even stronger Hispanic support [for Obama], deep concern among Hispanics about random searches for identification, and so in that sense it really helps Obama in his re-election.”
The Supreme Court decision makes immigration even more of a significant issue in the 2012 campaign, Zogby says.
“It’s clearly an issue that separates the parties almost night and day. It’s also an issue where we know, because of the debate during the primaries and because of the Arizona law, that Republicans do have a real problem with Hispanics. [Republicans are] probably going to have to look for votes elsewhere and use this tough stance to ensure that the Republican base, which generally is white and Christian, gets out to vote.”
Asked if GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney can make up any ground with Hispanic voters or is it a lost cause at this point, Zogby responds: “It’s a lost cause. But he can try to talk to young voters in particular, a group that I call CENGAs – College-Educated Not Going Anywhere, those young people who have gone through four years of recession and are having a very difficult time getting a start in life.
“The problem, however, is that there’s so much of the GOP platform and positioning that’s so noxious to young people, it’s going to be very difficult to get them to vote GOP anyway. And so for now, at least, I see Romney trying to rally older voters, Christian conservatives, white voters. But in terms of Latinos and young people, those will be heavily for Obama.”
There is hope for Romney regarding younger voters because they may not turn out to vote in November, Zogby tells Newsmax.
“First of all, they have to turn out to vote. That’s important. Last time around they were hopeful, confident, looking ahead to the future, wanting to change the world. Now there’s still an element of that, but there’s this growing sub-group of CENGAs. Will they vote? If they don’t vote, that hurts Obama. If they do vote, they won’t vote for Romney.”
Asked if Obama and Romney’s inability to galvanize young voters could improve the prospects of a third party candidate like libertarian Gary Johnson, Zogby responds: “There’s evidence that Gary Johnson, at least as of today, is doing well. Now, what’s ‘well’ mean? Three to six points on average in individual states. Out West, including Arizona and New Mexico, Colorado, he gets upwards of eight or nine points.
“He’s getting the traditional libertarian vote but he’s picking up among these CENGAs, who really have very little or no confidence in government or politics.
“He could be the Ross Perot, although he won’t get as high as Ross Perot did.
“So far the polling shows he hurts Romney more than Obama by a margin of two to one. But he does hurt Obama. A substantial portion of Gary Johnson’s votes come from those who might have ordinarily voted for Obama, and so depending on how all the other votes hold up, he could end up hurting Obama more than he hurts Romney.”
Commenting on how Americans feel about Obamacare, which faces a Supreme Court ruling this week, the pollster says: “They don’t want the baby thrown out with the bathwater.
“A majority would like to see the individual mandate go. There are elements — for example, the expansion of Medicare — that they’d like to see go. On the other hand, there are pieces of it that majorities of Americans and, let’s face it, solid majorities of the president’s base really favor. And that includes coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, coverage for children at home up to the age of 26. Those are things that make this not so easy to interpret.
“Here’s my hunch: I don’t know what the court will do, but if the court does strike down the individual mandate, of course that could put the entire piece of legislation in jeopardy.
“That’s probably going to help Barack Obama. It’s going to mean that he can go out on the campaign trail and rally his base and say, ‘Look at what that Supreme Court did. The Supreme Court, incidentally, has a lower job approval rating than I do. Look at what they’re doing trying to take something away from you.’
“Whatever [the ruling] is, it will certainly be a very polarizing issue going into the campaign.
“Ultimately the middle-class taxpayer is saying, ‘We simply want a solution.’ That’s why I’m not sure so sure that the healthcare package is something that Americans are ready to kill. There are elements of it that they are, but not the package in total.”
As for who he sees winning the presidential election in November, Zogby says: “It’s too close to call. Overall, my numbers have a four-point race — as of last weekend, 47 percent for Obama, 43 for Romney.
“But then when you look at the three states that I’m watching the closest, Ohio, Florida, and Virginia, those races are all in a dead heat right now.”
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