Since NumbersUSA began running TV and radio ads in February highlighting the amnesty leadership of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), his popularity among South Carolina voters has dropped rapidly, according to a new Winthrop University poll.
Although he retains majority support among Republicans, his approval rating among them fell from 71.6% in February to 57.5% in April.
That's a mighty big drop in a really short time for a politician who has been defiant when national journalists ask him about NumbersUSA's educational campaign about his work with the Senate Gang of Eight in pushing for huge increases in foreign labor to compete with the 20 million unemployed Americans who can't find a full-time job.
Graham's approval rating among all registered voters has fallen to 43.9%, according to the university poll. He is up for re-election in 2014.
Two Republicans are threatening a challenge in the primary next year: state Sen. Lee Bright and former congressional candidate Richard Cash.
Graham repeatedly states to journalists and in Senate hearings -- as recently as this week -- that the unemployed workers in South Carolina refuse to take the non-agricultural jobs that open up. The only hope for South Carolina businesses is to import more foreign workers, he says.
That attitude about jobless Americans in their own states is, in a nutshell, the belief of most of the Senators who support the Gang of Amnesty.
ANOTHER POLL FINDS FEW S.C. VOTERS AGREE THAT S.C. WORKERS SHOULD BE BY-PASSED FOR FOREIGN WORKERS
Graham has stated that the only thing that will keep him from voting for the Gang Amnesty is if it puts too many restrictions on how many foreign workers businesses can import.
And he has bragged that South Carolina voters are now with him.
But an April poll by Pulse Opinion Research of likely South Carolina voters, finds quite a different profile.
The key feature of the Gang Amnesty is to give work permits to illegal aliens before any new enforcement against illegal immigration. South Carolina's voters don't like it:
QUESTION: Congress is considering a bill to give work permits to an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. Support or oppose?
-- Pulse Opinion Research
Interestingly, the Winthrop University poll that found Graham's approval numbers dropping has gotten a lot of publicity for also supposedly finding that most S.C. voters would be OK with an amnesty.
This is where wording of questions makes a lot of difference.
The Winthrop poll puts a lot of words to push the amnesty (of course, without using the word):
In the debate over immigration reform, some proposals include a path to citizenship for undocumented persons who are in the country illegally. This path to citizenship would require these individuals to go to the back of the line to apply for citizenship, require English-proficiency exams, ensure immigrants are paying taxes and impose a fine for those who are here illegally. Would you support or oppose a path to citizenship as part of larger immigration reform?
-- Winthrop University
Wow! How can there be such a disparity in answers?
I have no doubt that the polling that got that answer was as professional as the Pulse Opinion polling that found only 38% support for giving work permits.
The key here is probably that the Winthrop question did not in any way suggest that the illegal aliens are workers, will be given work permits or could possibly be in competition with a large unemployed population.
Instead, it referred to the amnesty as a "path to citizenship," which means a lot in reality but which doesn't signal to the person answering the poll that there are any specific benefits to the amnesty.
The other poll by Pulse Opinion Research explicitly named a key benefit that the amnesty would provide to the illegal aliens -- work permits.
Furthermore, the Winthrop question gave no sense of the magnitude of the illegal population, failing to mention how many people might get the amnesty.
The Pulse Opinion poll noted that the illegal population is estimated at 11 million.
In addition, the Winthrop poll used all those words that I've highlighted in red that have been tested to evoke positive reactions from voters. The problem is that the bill is written in such a way that virtually none of the provisions promised in that poll question are likely to happen in any substantial way.
The results of these two polls show why Sen. Graham and other Gang Amnesty supporters will do everything possible to make the 20 million Americans disappear from the debate and to downplay the work permits that will be given out at the beginning.
OK, on to another place where Sen. Graham is at odds with his state. He and other Senators pushing the Gang Amnesty insist that illegal aliens don't compete with Americans for the same jobs.
But South Carolina voters answered this way:
QUESTION: Do you believe less-educated illegal immigrants compete directly with less-educated Americans for construction, hospitality and other service jobs?
-- Pulse Opinion Research
There has been a lot of media attention to the efforts of some evangelical leaders to persuade South Carolina's congressional delegation that the Bible demands that they vote for an amnesty because the illegal aliens are just trying to support their families.
But South Carolina voters have a different sense of moral responsibility:
QUESTION: How much moral responsibility do you feel Congress has to help protect the ability of illegal immigrants to hold a job and support their families without fear of deportation?
39% A lot or Some
54% None or Very little
QUESTION: How much moral responsibility do you feel Congress has to help protect the ability of less-educated Americans to get a job without competition from foreign workers?
69% A lot or Some
28% Very little or None
-- Pulse Opinion Research
You can view our Sen. Graham ad at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ift7g3eHQNk
Here's my blog that gives the facts behind each of the claims in the ad:
The Pulse Opinion Research poll was conducted on April 1 and has a margin of sampling error of +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
GRAHAM'S S.C. REPUBLICANS ARE OFF THE CHARTS IN OPPOSITION TO WORK PERMITS FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS
All of the polling results shown above are for all likely voters, including Democrats and Independents, as well as Republicans.
The results for just the Republican primary voters, however,are far more antagonistic to chief aspects of Sen. Graham's immigration bill.
South Carolina Republicans OPPOSE giving work permits to illegal immigrants by a 73% to 24% margin!
Their intensity on the issue is even more lopsided:
- 8% of South Carolina Republicans STRONGLY support giving the work permits
- 47% of South Carolina Republicans STRONGLY oppose giving the work permits
S.C. EVANGELICALS DEFY PRO-AMNESTY LEADERS ON WHERE MORAL RESPONSIBILITY LIES
The national pro-amnesty lobby of high-profile evangelical leaders has been especially active in South Carolina. It ran ads to counter our anti-amnesty ads. Leaders announced that they will stand up to protect politicians like Graham who are willing to stand up for justice for "undocumented immigrants." And they have been giving a lot of attention to Rep. Gowdy, a devout South Carolina Southern Baptist who is chair of the House immigration panel. To be true to his evangelical faith, Gowdy is being told, he must support "comprehensive immigration reform."
The national media has often accepted the word of the pro-amnesty evangelical lobby that the evangelicals in the pews are coming around to their views of the moral responsibility to help "undocumented immigrants" get work permits to better support their families.
But the Pulse Opinion poll found that South Carolina evangelicals see morality in almost the opposite way from the pro-amnesty evangelical leaders.
- Only 13% agree with the pro-amnesty evangelical leaders that the Congress has a "LOT" of moral responsibility to "protect the ability of illegal immigrants to hold a job and support their families without fear of deportation. Another 21% said Congress has "SOME" moral responsibility.
- 38% answered "NONE" and 18% answered "A LITTLE."
But South Carolina evangelicals apparently have a real heart for the struggles of their friends, neighbors and relatives in the tough job markets of the state.
- 38% said Congress has a "LOT" of moral responsibility to "protect the ability of less-educated Americans to get a job without competition from foreign workers." Another 30% said Congress has "SOME" moral responsibility.
ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA