Seventy-eight percent of Americans surveyed said that a candidate's position on immigration was a critical factor in how they voted on Tuesday, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) said on Thursday.
And 56 percent of the 806 voters surveyed said
they supported a law blocking President Barack Obama from using federal money to grant legal status to illegal immigrants.
The study conducted Tuesday and Wednesday for the Washington-based organization by the Polling Company showed that 37 percent of respondents said that a candidate's position was very important, while 31 percent said it was somewhat important.
Only 19 percent that a candidate's stand on the issue did not affect how they voted.
In addition, 47 percent said they strongly supported a law that would prevent Obama from using federal dollars to legalize illegals, while 9 percent said they somewhat backed such a law.
Only 38 percent said they either strongly opposed on somewhat opposed any such legislation.
The survey has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
"Strong concern about the direction of U.S. immigration policy correlates directly with who won and who lost in close races on Tuesday," said Dan Stein, FAIR's president. "Each of the incumbent senators who were defeated voted in favor of 2013 legislation that would have granted amnesty to illegal aliens, as did three other incumbents in races that have yet to be decided.
"Especially in swing states, Democrats who walked the plank with President Obama and Harry Reid on amnesty were punished by the voters," Stein said.
Voters swept Republicans to victory throughout Congress on Tuesday, with the GOP picking up at least seven seats in the Senate — and solidifying its hold on the House with 245 seats. The Republicans would have its largest majority in the lower chamber since World War II.
Still, President Obama vowed on Wednesday that he would act unilaterally on immigration by the end of year, leading House Speaker John Boehner to declare
Thursday that doing so would "poison the well and there will be no chance for immigration reform moving in this Congress."
Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is expected to become majority leader in the new Congress in January said Wednesday that any executive action by Obama on immigration would be like "waving a red flag in front of a bull."
Stein noted that pledges by McConnell and other top Republicans to defund any unauthorized executive action on immigration would "not only reassert Congress’ constitutional authority over immigration policy but, according to national polling data, it would enjoy broad public support.
"As Congress considers appropriations in the lame-duck session, and into the 114th Congress, they have a clear mandate from the voters to use the power of the purse to block the president’s unconstitutional effort to grant amnesty to illegal aliens through executive action," Stein said.
Perhaps the strong indication of anti-immigration sentiment on Tuesday came from voters in Oregon, he said.
While voters gave Democrat Sen. Jeff Merkley a second term, they voted — 67.4 percent to 32.6 percent — to turn back
a 2013 law that granted driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
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