In Arizona where immigration was near the top of voter concerns, the candidate who “owned” the E-Verify issue was bound to benefit. After last week’s debate, Romney owned it; in today’s Arizona election, he benefitted.
The reason Romney benefited was not stance but leadership.
All three Non-Paul GOP candidates (Santorum, Gingrich & Romney) have been supporting national mandatory E-Verify through the campaign. But only Romney in last week's all-important debate made sure the voters knew his position by wrapping himself in that stance (see bottom of this blog).
Not surprisingly, exit polling today found that Arizona voters most concerned about illegal immigration broke strongly for Romney, who they saw as "the mandatory E-Verify candidate." The poll results below should cause every candidate of every party for every office to consider being the "E-Verify candidate" in their race. While Romney had long been expected to win Arizona, polling showed his lead was narrowing until last week's debate performance with the powerful appeal for E-Verify.
Many pundits claimed Romney’s robust advocacy of making Arizona’s mandatory E-Verify law a model for the nation was a blunder that somehow put him on the political fringe. Paul Begala just stated on CNN that Romney in last week's debate moved "so far to the right" on immigration that he will find it very difficult to move back enough to the center in the general election.
But a new national poll shows that kind of analysis to be nonsense.
- The poll reveals that overwhelming majorities of virtually every type of American support mandatory E-Verify.
- And it shows that "the political center" of Independents and Moderates is about as thrilled with mandatory E-Verify as are Republicans and Conservatives.
- In fact, Democrats and Liberals aren't that different on this issue, either.
HARD TO FIND AN OPPONENT OF MANDATORY E-VERIFY
The Pulse Opinion Research poll sponsored by NumbersUSA found that only 12% of all likely voters nationwide oppose requiring every employer to use electronic verification to keep illegal aliens from getting U.S. jobs – and to ensure that all U.S. jobs go to Americans and legal immigrants who already are here.
The question was phrased in a neutral way:
POLL QUESTION: “On the issue of ILLEGAL immigration, do you favor or oppose mandating that all employers electronically verify the immigration status of their workers.”
Among all likely voters:
- 78% favored mandatory verification
- 12% opposed mandatory verification
- 9% weren’t sure
GREAT STANCE NOT ONLY FOR REPUBLICANS BUT FOR SWING VOTERS – AND DEMOCRATS
(The percentage breakdowns in the rest of this blog are for likely voters in each category who expressed an opinion.)
Most people assume that favoring enforcement against illegal immigration is a crowd-pleaser among Republican voters. And that is certainly true for mandatory E-Verify:
- 94% favor - 6% oppose: REPUBLICANS
But the conventional wisdom among mainstream media pundits (see the Time cover story this week) is that E-Verify advocacy will be seen as too harsh and drive away the necessary swing voters in the fall general election.
The new poll, however, found a very similar overwhelming attraction to mandatory E-Verify among the people most likely to be swing voters – the political Independents.
- 84% favor - 16% oppose: INDEPENDENTS
And while there surely are some immigration stances that would really appeal to conservatives but drive away moderates, the popularity of E-Verify doesn’t seem to vary much among these ideologies:
- 92% favor – 8% oppose: VERY CONSERVATIVE (all parties)
- 85% favor – 15% oppose: SOMEWHAT CONSERVATIVE (all parties)
- 88% favor – 12% oppose: MODERATE (all parties)
Not only does campaigning for E-Verify raise chances for Republicans to appeal to swing voters, but the polls suggest that it would be a good strategy for Democrats as well. It appears that Democratic candidates could use mandatory E-Verify to vie for swing voters without risking much among their own base.
- 81% favor – 19% oppose: DEMOCRATS
It is beyond my understanding of any explanation except blatant bias in favor of amnesty that so many mainstream media reporters have allowed the Republican candidates’ support for mandatory E-Verify to be labeled by quoted sources or by themselves as “harsh” when the concept is so universally approved.
This E-Verify position that is so often described as dooming a Republican candidate to defeat is also a position supported by liberals.
- 91% favor – 9% oppose: SOMEWHAT LIBERAL (all parties)
- 79% favor – 21% oppose: VERY LIBERAL (all parties)
As NumbersUSA’s politically diverse staff, Board and membership have always proclaimed, reducing unfair foreign-labor competition for vulnerable American workers should be just as much a Democratic and liberal fight as a Republican and conservative one. It is easy to see how liberal Americans who care about the way illegal immigration drives down wages and displaces American workers (disproportionately Black and Hispanic Americans) would be major supporters of the E-Verify solution that isn’t based on raids, arrests and deportations but on civilly removing the jobs magnet.
Nonetheless, I know that if E-Verify ever makes it to the front pages, enough doctrinaire open-borders Democratic leaders will demonize it with the media's assistance that we will lose a lot of liberal support -- that is, unless a national Democratic voice emerges to champion E-Verify and the workers it will help.
POPULAR IN ALL RACIAL, RELIGIOUS, GENDER, AGE, EDUCATION, INCOME GROUPS
Reluctance to embrace mandatory E-Verify wasn’t found among minorities in this poll, although there was some variation.
- 89% favor - 11% oppose: WHITE
- 81% favor - 19% oppose: BLACK
- 76% favor - 24% oppose: OTHER (includes Hispanic & Asian American)
The sample size for Hispanics was not large enough alone to provide a dependable statistic, but the results did show a clear majority opinion in favor of mandatory verification.
Despite highly visible efforts of a small percentage of clergy to block state E-Verify laws, the poll found huge support among the major religious groups.
- 92% favor – 8% oppose: EVANGELICALS
- 88% favor – 12% oppose: PROTESTANTS
- 86% favor – 14% oppose: CATHOLICS
- 82% favor – 18% oppose: OTHER
Women were slightly more likely than men to approve mandatory E-Verify.
There was almost no difference in support among the poorest, middle and highest income groups, or in whether people were government workers, employees in private jobs, owners, self-employed or retired.
Young voters (18-39) were less likely than older voters to support mandatory E-Verify but still favored it by an 81% to 19% margin.
Pulse Opinion Research conducted the national poll of 1,000 likely voters on Feb. 16, 2012. The margin of sampling error was +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
The likely voters matched the usual demographic distribution in terms of race, age, politics, etc. Two test questions about the approval of Pres. Obama and preference among presidential candidates produced results similar to those of other national polls at the time. Pulse Opinion Research, LLC is an independent public opinion research firm using automated polling methodology and procedures licensed from Rasmussen Reports, LLC.
HOW ROMNEY ‘OWNED’ E-VERIFY FOR THE ARIZONA ELECTION
The CNN moderator in last week's debate attempted to push the candidates to talk about immigration in terms of a fence, the border, arrests, deportations and “harsh language” that alienates Hispanic voters.
Romney refused to take the bait and spent his time talking about E-Verify, which addresses what most experts on illegal immigration (including leaders of the Border Patrol union) identify as the most important factor in the problem – the ability of illegal aliens to get jobs.
I think you see a model in Arizona. They passed a law here that says -- that says that people who come here and try and find work, that the employer is required to look them up on e- verify. This e-verify system allows employers in Arizona to know who's here legally and who's not here legally. And as a result of e-verify being put in place, the number of people in Arizona that are here illegally has dropped by some 14 percent, where the national average has only gone down 7 percent.
So going back to the question that was asked, the right course for America is to drop these lawsuits against Arizona and other states that are trying to do the job Barack Obama isn't doing. And I will drop those lawsuits on day one. I'll also complete the fence. I'll make sure we have enough border patrol agents to secure the fence.
And I will make sure we have an E-Verify system and require employers to check the documents of workers, and to check E- Verify. And if an employer hires someone that has not gone through E- Verify, they're going to get sanctioned just like they do for not paying their taxes. You do that, and just as Arizona is finding out, you can stop illegal immigration. It's time we finally did it.”
ROY BECK is the CEO & Founder of NumbersUSA