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University of Iowa News Release

 

Dec. 14, 2010

Hawkeye Poll: Americans indicate that illegal immigration affected vote choices in 2010 election

As states across the nation implement laws meant to curb illegal immigration, a national University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll released today suggests that Americans think illegal immigration continues to be an important issue. Sixty-one percent of those polled said that illegal immigration was “very important” in their vote choices during the 2010 election.

Respondents were also asked if they favored (77 percent) or opposed (16 percent) stricter immigration laws or enforcement. Twenty-seven percent of Americans who indicated that illegal immigration was very important to their vote choices, did not favor stricter immigration laws or enforcement. In contrast, 68 percent of Americans who answered that illegal immigration was very important to their vote choices favored stricter laws and enforcement related to this issue.

“A possible explanation is that Americans are concerned about resource availability and issues related to safety,” said Nathan Darus, a UI doctoral student in political science who helped conduct the poll. “Americans may fear that as illegal immigrants continue to come to the U.S., resources will decline and violence will increase.”

Topline results are available at: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2010/december/121410HawkeyePoll_Immigration_topline.pdf.

Americans who said that immigration was very important to their vote overwhelmingly believe that the federal government should be responsible for handling immigration. However, Americans who felt it was unimportant or only slightly important also felt the same way. Among those who felt immigration was very important, 60.6 percent said the federal government should handle the issue, 26.2 percent said the states should handle it, and only 8.3 percent felt that local governments should handle it.

The importance of illegal immigration to Americans’ vote choices varied by partisanship. Although only 31 percent of Democrats reported that illegal immigration was “very important” to their vote choices, a majority of Republicans (78 percent) and a majority of Independents (61 percent) fell into that category. In contrast, 35 percent of Democrats reported that illegal immigration was “unimportant” to their vote choices. Two percent of Republicans and 17 percent of Independents also fell into this category.

Examining the differences among the age cohorts demonstrated that illegal immigration grew in importance as Americans aged. Fifty percent of respondents between 18 and 34 years old indicated that illegal immigration was very important to their vote choices. However, this number increased among the older age cohorts. Fifty-eight percent of Americans between 35 and 54, 67 percent of Americans between 55 and 69, and 71 percent of Americans 70 or older all indicated that illegal immigration was very important to their vote choices.

Of the 1,458 participants, 28 percent were Democrat, 33 percent Republican and 29 percent Independent. Forty-six percent considered themselves moderate, while 16 percent self-identified as liberal and 36 percent as conservative. Reported results are weighted by state population and age. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 2.5 percent. The poll was conducted from Nov. 3-11, 2010.

The poll was conducted by the Hawkeye Poll Cooperative, comprised of UI faculty and graduate students in political science, with the cooperation and facilities of the Iowa Social Science Research Center, directed by UI Sociology Professor Kevin Leicht. Faculty adviser for the poll is UI Associate Professor of Political Science Frederick Boehmke. The immigration questions were written by students in the independent study course. The poll is a teaching, research and service project of the UI Department of Political Science. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Provost fund the poll.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Natasha Altema, Hawkeye Poll, 319-335-3844 (office), natasha-altema@uiowa.edu; Kelli Andresen, University News Services, 319-384-0044, kelli-andresen@uiowa.edu; Frederick Boehmke, Hawkeye Poll, 319-335-2342 (office), 716-866-9277 (cell), frederick-boehmke@uiowa.edu