Up for re-election next year, Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly has to contend with an Indiana electorate that polling finds overwhelmingly wants immigration reduced -- just like President Trump who won the state's electoral votes last year.
- Will Sen. Donnelly support the RAISE Act? A survey by Pulse Opinion Research has found that all components of the bill are strongly favored by Indiana's "likely mid-term" voters?
- Or will Sen. Donnelly take the risk of supporting the high-immigration position which Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton espoused last year. Many analysts on left and right have suggested that her immigration stances -- which were often interpreted as insensitive to American workers -- may have been a key factor in losing swing states like Indiana which cost her the election.
PAST VOTERS FOR SEN. DONNELLY WANT IMMIGRATION CUT BY AT LEAST HALF
In next year's election, Sen. Donnelly will be answering to Indiana voters who polled 55% to 21% in favor of cutting legal immigration from the current one million a year to a half-million or less. That reduction is what would happen under the RAISE Act, introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) with Pres. Trump at the White House this summer.
The NumbersUSA-commissioned poll indicated that going against the RAISE Act and significant cuts in legal immigration not only would go against the desires of the overall Indiana electorate but also among Sen. Donnelly's base of voters who have supported him in the past.
Among likely mid-term voters who said they have cast ballots for Sen. Donnelly in the past, 49% said they want legal immigration cut to a half-million or less, while 28% said keep it at a million a year or more.
Of those Donnelly supporters who called for reductions, almost a third said cut to 500,000, well over a third said cut to 250,000, and almost another third answered that they would prefer zero legal immigration.
INDIANA GROUPS WITH LOTS OF SWING VOTERS WANT CUTS
Support for the RAISE Act reductions is even higher among demographic groups that are seen as holding a lot of the all-important swing voters who will be deciding close elections next year.
Here is the split in favor of immigration cuts to a half-million or lower vs. those in favor of a million or more (the remainder answered they were "not sure"):
49% - 25% Independents
52% - 23% Moderates
54% - 22% Catholics
59% - 17% Union Households
54% - 24% Suburban Voters
61% - 18% Voters W/O College Degree
The splits in favor of deep reductions tended to be even greater among swing voters who voted for Trump last year:
76% - 14% Independents who voted for Trump
70% - 10% Democrats who voted for Trump
Perhaps most telling of all was the 4-to-1 preference for deep immigration cuts among likely Indiana voters who said immigration is in their top 3 issues. The passion among Indiana voters is clearly on the side of the chief aspect of the RAISE Act, which is to greatly reduce the number of foreign citizens added to the country each year with life-time work permits.
As constituents communicate with Sen. Donnelly about whether he will stand with Indiana voters for less foreign worker competition, they might remind him that this poll found that only 16% of Indiana voters who are passionate about immigration policy want to continue the current immigration levels or increase them.
Sen. Donnelly will need to keep an eye on the 63% of passionate voters who want to cut immigration numbers by at least half -- 26% want to cut to zero!
ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA
(The poll of 1,000 Indiana voters had a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. For more information on this poll, see https://www.numbersusa.com/news/indiana-voters-cut-legal-immigration-least-half)
The exact wording of the polling question was: QUESTION: Current federal policy automatically adds about one million new legal immigrants each year giving all of them lifetime work visas. Which is closest to the number of lifetime immigrant work visas the government should be adding each year -- none, 250,000, half a million, one million, one and a half million, two million, or more than two million?
Updated: Fri, Sep 29th 2017 @ 1:33pm EDT