Category Archives: Immigration

Increasingly Positive Views on Immigration in New Jersey, but Some Division Still Exists

Full text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the text, questions, and tables.


2016 effect? Views colored by partisanship, Trump support

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As the immigration debate rages on in the race to 2016, New Jerseyans increasingly support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently working in the United States, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Sixty-four percent of residents now believe undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay and apply for U.S. citizenship, an increase of 12 points since last asked by the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in 2012. Another 15 percent say they should be allowed to stay as temporary guest workers but not be able to apply, down seven points. Eighteen percent think they should be required to leave the country, a decline of four points.

“Last night, Donald Trump claimed no one was talking about immigration until he did, but here in New Jersey, immigration – both legal and not – has been a hot topic for years,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “In Rutgers-Eagleton polls in the past two decades, New Jerseyans have solidly supported legal status and then citizenship for immigrants. This is not surprising, given that New Jersey is one of the most diverse states and that one in five residents is an immigrant.”

The personal importance of immigration to New Jerseyans has increased over time as well: 14 percent now say it is the most important issue to them, up nine points since 2012, and another 29 percent say it is one of a few very important issues. Thirty-nine percent say it is somewhat important (down seven points), and 17 percent say it is not important to them at all (down three points).

More New Jersey residents also have a positive opinion of immigrants’ impact on everyday life today than they did in 2012.

But even with these increases, 41 percent say the number of immigrants in the Garden State is too high, up five points since 2012; another 44 percent say it is just right. Moreover, immigration remains a partisan issue, with notable differences between the two parties and even within Republicans, specifically among Donald Trump supporters compared to the GOP as a whole.

Results are from a statewide poll of 867 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from July 25 to August 1. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.9 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Importance of citizenship influenced by demographics

Immigration is an especially personal issue within certain demographics. Three-quarters of residents who identify as Hispanic support citizenship, compared to 61 percent of non-Hispanics. Similar patterns exist for those not born in the United States and those whose parents immigrated to this country.

These same groups are also more likely, by double digits, to say immigration is personally important to them: 40 percent of Hispanics, 30 percent of foreign-born residents, and 21 percent of those with foreign-born parents say it is the most important issue, with the majority of each group saying the issue is at least one of a few of their top concerns.

Interaction with immigrants in daily life also has an impact: support for citizenship and personal importance increases along with frequency of interaction. Over seven in 10 who say immigrants make their neighborhood, workplace, or the state a better place also favor citizenship.

Younger generations are much more supportive of citizenship – though not more likely to say the issue is important – than older ones, as support steadily declines with age.

Importance of immigration does not necessarily imply support of citizenship, however. Among supporters, 15 percent say it is the most important issue for them, and another 25 percent say it is one of few. But those who favor deportation also feel strongly about it, with 16 percent saying immigration is their top issue and another 38 percent saying it is one of the most important.

Republicans now support citizenship, but dividing lines persist

Partisans of all stripes support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the United States, though to varying degrees: Democrats at 78 percent, independents at 57 percent, and even Republicans at 51 percent. But Republicans and independents are also more likely to say undocumented immigrants should be forced to leave the country, at 28 percent and 21 percent respectively, while just 10 percent of Democrats say the same.

Those favorable toward former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton resemble Democrats in general, with 72 percent supporting citizenship. Those who like Gov. Chris Christie likewise resemble Republicans in general. But Donald Trump supporters are notably more negative about welcoming immigrants: 46 percent favor citizenship, 17 percent prefer legal status, and 35 percent choose deportation – the highest of any demographic.

“Republicans as a whole have come a long way on the issue since we last polled this in 2012, when they were mostly split over citizenship, with 37 percent expressing support and another 33 percent favoring deportation,” said Koning. “The double-digit increase to majority support in two years is remarkable. But of course, there are many different views about immigration reform on the national stage right now – especially among contenders on the Republican side like Donald Trump. And we see these differences play out when we specifically look at Trump supporters’ attitudes on citizenship, which are more conservative than the rest of the party.”

Republicans are slightly more negative regarding other aspects of the immigration issue. While there are minimal party differences in personal importance, just over half of Republicans feel the number of immigrants in the Garden State is too high, compared to 35 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents. Those in Trump’s corner are especially likely to say the number of immigrants in the state is too high, at 58 percent, compared to Christie supporters or the GOP as a whole.

Republicans are also less likely to say that immigrants have a positive impact on different parts of daily life. Nineteen percent say immigrants make their neighborhood better, compared to 39 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of independents. GOPers feel somewhat similarly about the workplace, with about a quarter believing immigrants make it better, versus almost four in ten of other partisans. As for New Jersey itself, 29 percent of Republicans view immigrants’ influence positively, compared to 40 percent of independents and 49 percent of Democrats. Republicans say they interact with immigrants on a daily basis to a lesser extent than other partisans – at 52 percent, versus 59 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents.

Increased interaction and perceptions of immigrants’ positive effects

The overall increase in support for immigration and importance of the issue among New Jerseyans may stem from their frequent interaction with immigrants and their increased belief that immigrants have a positive effect on society. Six in 10 say they interact with someone from another country every day; another two in 10 say a few times a week. The remaining two in 10 interact with immigrants a few times a month or less.

Thirty-two percent feel people born outside the U.S. have made the quality of life in their neighborhoods better (up six points), while 49 percent say immigrants have not had much of an impact (down 12 points); another 13 percent say immigrants have actually made their neighborhoods worse (up three points). New Jerseyans feel similarly about their place of work, with 36 percent saying immigrants have made it better, a 10-point increase since 2012. Another 43 percent say they have had no effect here (down 11 points), and just nine percent say they have made the workplace worse.

Forty-one percent of residents believe immigrants have made New Jersey as a whole better, a nine-point increase. Twenty-nine percent say they do not have an impact on the state (down 6 points), and 21 percent say immigrants make the state worse, a drop of four points.

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Full text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the text, questions, and tables.


Half say Obama had no choice but to act

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – A majority of New Jersey residents (53 percent) support President Barack Obama’s executive order sparing millions of undocumented immigrants from risk of immediate deportation by refocusing enforcement efforts on “felons, not families,” according to results of a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released today. Forty-two percent oppose the action, and six percent are unsure.

Obama’s Nov. 20 announcement also provides an opportunity to apply for three years of relief from deportation and work permits, available to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before 2010 and were under 16 years old or have at least one child who is a US citizen or legal resident. Those who will be able to avoid deportation are mostly parents and young people.

While a plurality of 43 percent says Obama went too far in bypassing Congress with his executive order, more residents think either he did not go far enough (23 percent) or did about right (25 percent).

Half of New Jerseyans say Obama had no choice but to act, agreeing with the president’s claim that he had to use an executive order because Congress has refused to pass needed reforms. But nearly as many – 47 percent – think the president should have continued efforts to work with Congress on immigration reform.

“Obama acted knowing he will face a hostile Republican-led Congress next year,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Here in New Jersey, that decision goes over relatively well, although even some who support this action would have preferred that he keep trying to work with Congress.”

The president’s announcement generated an outcry from Republicans in Congress, some of whom suggested shutting down the government or initiating impeachment over Obama’s action. New Jersey residents, however, overwhelmingly say Republicans should simply pass their own immigration legislation if they are unhappy with Obama’s decision. Nearly six in ten take this position, while 17 percent think Republicans should do nothing in response. Ten percent call for impeachment, while six percent support a Republican lawsuit against the president. Just 3 percent say Republicans should shut down the government.

Results are from a statewide poll of 750 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Dec. 3-10, 2014, with a margin of error of +/-4.0 percentage points.

New Jersey’s diversity drives support for Obama action

Support for Obama’s executive order is driven primarily by the diversity of the New Jersey population, where recent Census Bureau reports suggest that non-whites make up about 40 percent of adults. White New Jerseyans oppose Obama’s immigration plan, with just 41 percent in favor and 55 percent opposed. But nonwhite residents are strongly in favor of the decision, with 70 percent supporting and 22 percent disagreeing with the president. Nonwhite support is driven in particular by the nearly three-quarters of Hispanic residents who agree with Obama’s decision.

“Obama’s order focuses on undocumented immigrants, including the 74 percent the Department of Homeland Security estimates come from Spanish-speaking countries and another 10 percent who are Asian. Thus for Hispanic and Asian New Jerseyans, this may be seen as more personal than it is for whites, even if they are not themselves immigrants.”

Whites in New Jersey are much more likely to think Obama went too far with his action, 58 percent to just 22 percent of nonwhites. Only 16 percent of whites think Obama did not go far enough, but 33 percent of nonwhites think he could have done more, including 36 percent of Hispanic residents.

An even bigger disparity exists on the question of whether Obama should have tried to do more with Congress about immigration. While 68 percent of nonwhite Garden Staters think Obama had no choice but to act, just 38 percent of whites agree. Instead, 61 percent of whites think Obama should have continued to work with Congress on this issue.

Among immigrants of all ethnicities, 71 percent support the Obama measure, while 22 percent oppose it. Children of immigrants have similar preferences, supporting the new policy 62 percent to 31 percent opposed. But New Jerseyans born in the U.S. are nearly evenly split, with 48 percent supporting the president and 46 percent opposing his new policy toward undocumented immigrants.

Supporters and opponents call on Congressional Republicans to pass their own bill

Among those who support Obama’s action, 62 percent say that if Republicans in Congress are unhappy with Obama, they should pass their own bill. More than half (53 percent) of those opposed to the new policy say the same.

“While many Congressional Republicans have expressed outrage at Obama’s action, New Jerseyans generally think they should just get their act together and pass a bill,” said Redlawsk. “This is the case regardless of whether or not they are happy about what Obama’s done.”

Men (49 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed) are less supportive of Obama’s actions than women (56 percent support, 37 percent opposed). But men are more likely to tell Congress to focus on passing its own immigration law, 62 percent, compared to 52 percent of women. Twenty-one percent of women say Congress should just do nothing, versus just 12 percent of men.

Among white respondents, 63 percent want Congress to act, while 11 percent say nothing else needs to be done. But among nonwhites, just 47 percent want Congress to pass a law, while 24 percent want nothing else done.

Partisans line up as expected; but independents split

Unsurprisingly, most Democrats (75 percent) support the president, while just 24 percent of Republicans are on his side on immigration. Independents in New Jersey are all but evenly split, 48 percent in favor to 45 percent opposed.

Paralleling support levels, 74 percent of Republicans think Obama went too far in his unilateral action, a view shared by just 20 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of independents. A third of Democrats think Obama did not go far enough, as do 20 percent of independents; just 13 percent of Republicans agree. Another 40 percent of Democrats and 20 percent of independents volunteer that Obama’s action was just right, although fewer than one in 10 Republicans concur.

While independents are more supportive than opposed to Obama’s executive order, they come down more on the side of Republicans in saying the president should have worked with Congress on the issue. Fifty-two percent of independents say this, while 45 percent think Obama had no choice but to act. Eighty-two percent of Republicans believe Obama acted precipitously, instead of working with Congress. Nearly as many Democrats (76 percent) think Obama had to act as and when he did.

As to what Congress should do next, both parties tend to agree that Congressional Republicans should respond to Obama by passing their own bill, a position taken by 63 percent of Republican residents, 60 percent of independents, and even 50 percent of Democrats. On the other hand, nearly one in five Republicans says impeachment should be the next move by the soon-to-be Republican-led Congress; one in ten independents and virtually no Democrats agree. Filing a lawsuit is not seen as the preferred course of action by anyone – just 8 percent of Republicans, 7 percent of Independents, and 5 percent of Democrats want this course of action. There is little interest in shutting down government over the issue; just 3 percent of New Jerseyans choose this option, with no partisan differences.

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Results of a Joint Poll with Siena and Roanoke Released Today

Over the last week we carried out our latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of New Jersey with an interesting twist. In conjunction with two other statewide academic polling centers we fielded a large set of the same questions to respondents in our respective states. Today we release the results in a lengthy report that summarizes the interesting differences and similarities between the three states of New York (Siena Research Institute), Virginia (Roanoke Institute for Policy and Opinion Research) and Rutgers-Eagleton. The report speaks pretty much for itself, but if you want to see the full set of questions and crosstabs for all three institutions, you can find them here.

For a PDF of this release with the New Jersey tables and crosstabs, click here.

Full text of the release follows.

Roanoke/Rutgers-Eagleton/Siena College Study:  Simultaneous Polls – Virginia, New Jersey, New York
Majority in 3 States Favorable on Hillary Clinton; Give Former Sec of State 2016 Lead over Christie, Paul & Ryan

Voters in NJ, NY & Virginia in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage, National Gun Registry, Keystone Pipeline, Minimum Wage Hike, Med Marijuana; States Mixed on Obamacare, Unemployment Extension

Cuomo Stronger in NY than Christie in Jersey or McAuliffe in Virginia

NY & NJ Voters see Global Climate Change; Virginians Mixed

Loudonville, NY; New Brunswick, NJ; Roanoke, VA. – A majority of voters in New York (64 percent), New Jersey (59 percent) and Virginia (56 percent) have a favorable view of Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and name her most often in each state as the one eligible person that they would most like to see as the next President according to simultaneous identical polls conducted by Roanoke College in Virginia, Rutgers-Eagleton in New Jersey and Siena College in New York.  In early 2016 Presidential horseraces in each state, Clinton tops New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Paul Ryan by over 35 points in New York, 8 (Christie) to 14 (Paul) points in Virginia and even leads Christie by 10 in New Jersey while up there by 25 to 29 over Ryan and Paul.

“It’s early, very early, but in these three states worth 56 of 270 electoral votes needed to win, Hillary Clinton is well-liked, the top choice by margins of 4 or 5 to one in New York and Virginia and named more than twice as often in Governor Christie’s home state.  Head to head, she is untouchable in New York, has majorities in New Jersey and a lead in the potential battleground state of Virginia over not only two lesser known Republican hopefuls, Paul and Ryan, but over Christie who can no longer muster 50 percent favorable in any of the three states,” according to Don Levy, Director of the Siena College Research Institute.

Asked to vote in favor of or opposed to 12 national initiatives, a majority of voters in all three states support seven and oppose one.  Overwhelming majorities are in favor of raising the national minimum wage to $10.10 per hour; legalizing the use of marijuana in all 50 states for medical purposes; approving a path to citizenship for people who are in the U.S. illegally, but are working, have no criminal record and pay taxes; approving the Keystone Pipeline to bring oil from Canada to the U.S.; using federal funds to make free Pre-Kindergarten education available to all children; and establishing a national gun registry.

Legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states is strongly supported in New Jersey and New York while Virginians are in favor by 53 to 40 percent.  Large majorities, greatest in Virginia, oppose allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to tap domestic phone lines in the interest of national security.


“We tend to spend more time focusing on how voters differ across states, but here we find that despite differences in geography, racial and religious makeup, and partisanship, there is more agreement than not in these three states on seven current issues. Apparently voters share more opinions than the media leads us to believe with their focus on a hyper partisan world,” according to David Redlawsk, Director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

“Given a huge disparity in gun ownership rates – half in Virginia compared to one in seven in the two northern states – the much smaller differences on support for a national gun registry are surprising.  Virginians are less supportive of stricter gun laws, but those differences are relatively small. New York and New Jersey have much tougher restrictions on guns and gun owners; perhaps those differences are a factor in shaping opinion,” according to Harry Wilson, Director of Roanoke’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research.

On four current issues – the Affordable Care Act, abortion, standardized testing and an extension for unemployment benefits – the voters of New Jersey, New York and Virginia do not speak with the same decisiveness nor the same mind.  Given the opportunity to vote in these polls on repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a majority of Virginians are in favor, a small majority of New Jerseyans agree, but a similarly small majority of New Yorkers oppose repeal.  On two other current hot button issues, both New York and New Jersey support both reinstituting unemployment benefits beyond the initial 26 weeks of coverage and to a lesser degree, using nationally standardized tests to assess the quality of public schools, while in Virginia, both issues find voters split.

The one issue on which voters of each state are closely divided is making abortion illegal 20 weeks after conception, a proposal currently being advanced by some in Congress.  Voters in all three states lean towards opposing this measure, but only in Virginia does opposition reach beyond the margin of error and in no instant does opposition reach 50 percent.

“While voters in these three states agree on and endorse initiatives covering a wide range of issues – same-sex marriage, medical marijuana, the Keystone Pipeline and the minimum wage – voters both within these three states and across borders cannot come to any consensus on some of the key issues that are drawing the political battle lines today including abortion, Obamacare and unemployment benefits.  In fact, asked whether the greatest problem we face today is too much government or income inequality, New Yorkers say ‘it’s inequality,’ Virginians say ‘too much government’ and New Jersey is split,” Levy notes.

“Another line in the sand is climate change.  New Jersey and New York emphatically say that they think that the major storms that have hit the East Coast over the last two years are the result of global climate change while Virginians are not convinced,” Wilson adds.

Rating the Governors, States and Country

Of the three Governors, Andrew Cuomo in New York, Chris Christie in New Jersey and Terry McAuliffe in Virginia, Cuomo has the strongest favorability ranking in his own state at 59 to 34 percent followed by McAuliffe’s 47 to 33 percent and Christie’s 48 to 40 percent.  Away from their home state, Christie is best known but gets breakeven favorable/unfavorable scores in both New York and Virginia.  McAuliffe, the Governor with the shortest tenure, is little known outside of Virginia while Cuomo is seen favorably in New Jersey, 47 to 19 percent but is neither well known nor popular in Virginia at 27 to 33 percent.

Another point of agreement across these three states is that voters say that the country is headed in the wrong direction rather than being on the right track by nearly identical scores – NJ 56/32, NY 54/36, Virginia 59/32.  And when asked to assess the direction of their own state, voters are more positive about their home than the nation but no state makes it to 50 percent saying ‘right track.’  While Virginians are guardedly optimistic at 47 percent right track to 40 percent wrong direction, New Yorkers and New Jerseyans lean negatively.


“Still, given a chance to vote with their feet when asked across all three states to choose where they would most like to live, a large majority – ninety percent in Virginia, two-thirds in New York and almost six in ten in New Jersey, say, despite any warts, home is sweet home.  Among those with a wandering eye, Virginia calls most loudly as a quarter of both New Yorkers and New Jerseyans are ready to head south,” Redlawsk added.

“Whether we describe our politics as hyper-partisan, divided or gridlocked, this three-state study shows that large majorities of voters from New Jersey, New York and Virginia agree on many issues.  Still, given their sobering agreement on the country currently moving in the wrong direction, they appear more frustrated than optimistic.  At the same time, on some issues including Obamacare, the role of government and abortion, deep divides are evident.  The 2016 Presidential election is a political eternity away.  While some of the issues in this study may be decided by then, it is more likely that Hillary Clinton and the other candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, will need to address both the areas of agreement as well as those on which Americans disagree when the campaign heats up.”


Filed under Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie, Christie NJ Rating, Education, Gay Marriage, Gun Control, Health Care, Hillary Clinton, Immigration, Obama NJ Rating, President Obama

Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Top results of 2012

OK, so it’s nearly the end of January, and everyone else has already done their greatest hits of 2012. Even so, we thought we’d take a quick look back at some of the more interesting findings. Aaron Hyndman, the undergraduate student who has been leading our social networking team, and Ashley Koning, graduate student and Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Manager, put together this retrospective.

So here is a look back at the top five Rutgers-Eagleton Poll moments of 2012 at ECPIP:

5) Wider support for same-sex marriage and immigration a reflection of greater social change.

As the New Jersey legislature once again addressed same-sex marriage in early 2012, with a subsequent controversy ensuing, more than half of New Jersey voters (54 percent) were in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.  But they wanted to vote on it. And around the time of President Obama’s executive order regarding the DREAM Act, June 2012 findings show mass bipartisan appeal for the measure providing opportunities for children of undocumented immigrants.  Eighty percent of New Jersey residents voiced support, mirroring national trends.

Press Releases: February 13, 2012, February 14, 2012, June 18, 2012

4) “Predicting” the 2012 Election.
From President Obama’s strong win in New Jersey by the same 17-point margin as shown in a late September Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, to the higher education bond passing with nearly the exact same percentage as our results showed more than a month prior, our late September polling was surprisingly accurate, reinforcing the idea that most NJ voters had made up their minds long before election day.  And in partnership with WNYC and The Brian Lehrer Show, we went even further into major issues by investigating New Jersey opinions on the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid (

Press Releases: October 3, 2012, October 5, 2012, October 10, 2012

3) A growing concern about gun violence and gun control in the wake of nationwide tragedies.
First polled in August after the Colorado, Wisconsin Sikh Temple, and Empire State Building Shootings, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found two-thirds of NJ voters very concerned with gun violence in America, 65 percent believing gun ownership was more important than gun owners’ rights, and nearly half agreeing that New Jersey gun laws should be made stricter.  Asked less than four months later in the wake of the unspeakable shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll saw a dramatic shift in favor of gun control from August (up to 72 percent across all New Jerseyans and up to 57 percent specifically within gun-owning households).  More than three quarters of New Jerseyans were worried about gun violence – including six in ten gun owners – and virtually all believed it to be an important issue for the national agenda.

Press Release: September 12, 2012

2.) Jersey Strong in the face of the Superstorm – bipartisanship and the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Superstorm Sandy was probably the most unprecedented, dramatic weather event in New Jersey’s history.  In the days before a national election, the Superstorm forced politics to be set aside so that leaders on both sides of the aisle could do everything in their power to provide aid to those suffering and help rebuild our region (and canceled our pre-election polling as well).  With two thirds of New Jerseyans affected by the storm, they praised this spirit of bipartisan cooperation by giving both President Obama and Governor Christie extraordinarily high marks in our November poll that chronicled Sandy’s aftermath.

Press Releases: November 20, 2012, November 21, 2012 

1.) The Untouchable Chris Christie and his soaring reelection and approval numbers heading into the 2013 race for governor.
Prior to Sandy, New Jersey voters were split on whether the governor should receive a second term or if it was time for someone new.  But Sandy changed all of that, and Governor Christie took a commanding lead in our November poll – both in general and by double-digit margins when put head-to-head against likely Democrat opponents (including Booker) for the 2013 election.  His undeniable leadership in a time of crisis and post-Sandy popularity has catapulted him to his highest favorability ratings ever as governor.  Christie now enters the 2013 race as a formidable opponent with strong job performance grades, greater support from his citizens, and a reputation that is less reminiscent of his pre-Sandy numbers and more reflective of his leadership and strong character in rebuilding the Garden State. But a lot can happen over the course of an election year, and we will be there to document it.

Press Releases: November 27, 2012, November 29, 2012

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DREAM Act gets wide support in NJ

With President Obama’s announcement last week that he would implement key parts of the DREAM act (though not all) by executive order, we have the opportunity to give some sense of how NJ feels about the provisions of the proposed bill which last got bottled up in the U.S. Senate. The DREAM act would apply to undocumented immigrants brought here as children, thus having not themselves made a choice to come to the U.S. without legal status. The act would provide an opportunity for citizenship, though Obama’s executive order does not go that far.

In our most recent poll, we had a battery on NJ attitudes toward immigration as part of a project we intend to report at the end of summer. But one of the questions specifically asked about support for the DREAM Act provisions. So given the news, we thought we’d take a look at that question.

The result – wide support in NJ when the provisions of the act are provided. About 40 percent say they strongly support it, and another 40 percent “somewhat” support the bill. This suggest pretty broad support for Obama’s move here in the Garden State, though we did not poll specifically on that since our poll was in the field May 31 – June 4, before Obama’s move.

At one point we thought maybe these numbers are out of whack – even Republicans at least somewhat support the proposal. But consider that Marco Rubio, Republican Senator from Florida was working on a proposal now preempted by Obama, and the fact that other polls have shows support nationally and in interesting states like Arizona, our results make sense. After all, this is about those brought to the U.S. through no decision of their own, and who may not even have a country to be deported to.

Full text of today’s release follows. Click here for a PDF with questions and tables.


 NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – As President Barack Obama moves to implement parts of the DREAM Act by executive order, bypassing the need for congressional approval, a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll finds that 80 percent of New Jerseyans support the provisions of the proposed law. The DREAM Act would prevent young undocumented immigrants from being deported if they met certain requirements regarding age, criminal background and education or military service.

Last week, the president called his executive order, “the right thing to do for the American people.” While the poll was taken two weeks before Obama’s announcement, the findings suggest that his decision is likely to be popular in New Jersey.

“Though the president’s order does not grant permanent citizenship as the DREAM Act would, the new poll results suggest strong support for his action,” said Poll Director David Redlawsk, a professor of political science at Rutgers. “While some may suggest Obama didn’t go far enough, he is not likely to face significant voter backlash here. However, some of the more lukewarm supporters in our poll might be concerned about Obama taking unilateral action.”

After hearing the specifics of the DREAM Act, Garden Staters are evenly split at about 40 percent each between whether they “strongly” or “somewhat” support it, while 10 percent somewhat oppose the act, and 8 percent strongly oppose it.

Results are from a statewide poll of 1,191 adults using both landlines and cell phones from May 31-June 4. The sample has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

Majority support cuts across demographic lines

Reflecting recent national and state polls, which find majority support for the DREAM Act, support in New Jersey cuts across typical demographic divides. While nearly 90 percent of New Jersey’s immigrants support the proposed legislation, even typical opponents of immigration show some support.

“Prior to Obama’s decision, key tenets of the program were supported by Democrats and Republicans, even though the bill did not get past Congress,” said Redlawsk. “Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, for example, recently offered a similar plan that did not go quite as far as the original DREAM Act. So it is not surprising to see support from both sides of the aisle in New Jersey.”

While 87 percent of Democrats support the DREAM Act provisions, so do 77 percent of independents and even 70 percent of Republicans. Support also extends to a majority of each age cohort; 86 percent the youngest New Jerseyans, 82 percent of 30 to 49 year-olds and 74 percent 50 and older support the proposed law.

Hispanics and African-Americans are more likely to strongly support the DREAM Act than whites, but a large majority of each group supports the proposal: 85 percent of Hispanics express support followed by 82 percent of African-Americans, and 77 percent of white New Jerseyans.

Even those who are more unfavorable to the presence and impact of immigrants in New Jersey favor the DREAM Act’s provisions, with 70 percent at least somewhat supportive of the proposal. And among those who think immigrants hurt the state’s economy, two-thirds still express some support.

“One key point is that the DREAM Act is about those who are brought to the U.S. illegally as children, not through any choice of their own,” noted Redlawsk. “These young people are apparently looked upon much more sympathetically than those who have made their own choice to come.”

Intensity of support varies

Clear majorities of every major demographic group express at least some support for the DREAM Act, but levels of support vary. While 51 percent of Democrats offer strong support, only 34 percent of independents and 30 percent of Republicans do the same. But an additional 40 percent or more of the latter groups “somewhat” support the act.

Majorities of African-Americans and Hispanics strongly support the proposal, compared to 35 percent of whites, although another 42 percent are somewhat supportive. Fifty-nine percent of immigrants strongly support the act, 22 percent higher than U.S.-born Garden Staters.

“This differing intensity suggests that with the president making an end-run around Congress, there is room for those who oppose Obama anyway to shift their position and come out opposed,” said Redlawsk. “So while we show strong support for the DREAM act’s provisions, we cannot be sure that this translates completely into support for Obama’s move. Most likely it does among those already strongly support the law, while creating conflict about the issue for others.”

Among New Jerseyans who say there are too many immigrants in the state, 31 percent still strongly support the DREAM Act while another 39 percent somewhat support it. Meanwhile 47 percent of those who think immigration levels are “just right” give strong support and another 40 percent are somewhat supportive.

Support from those who know, don’t know immigrants

Eighty-six percent of respondents born outside the U.S. support the DREAM Act, with 59 showing strong support. Likewise, 83 percent of those with at least one immigrant parent support the proposal.

New Jerseyans’ amount of contact with immigrants only slightly affects support for the act.  Seventy-three percent who interact with immigrants less than once a month show at least some support for the act; 80 percent of respondents with daily contact show support.

Support also does not depend on the personal importance Garden Staters assign to the issue of immigration. The small number (about 6 percent) who say immigration is their most important issue are more likely to strongly support the DREAM Act than the 20 percent of respondents who say immigration is not an important issue at all. Even so large majorities show at least some support across all levels of issue importance.

Those who consider immigration their most important issue are also the only group showing more than 25 percent strong opposition to the DREAM Act, suggesting the issue is very important both to those in support of and opposed to immigration. Conservative New Jerseyans, who make up about one-fifth of the sample, are the only other group coming close to a large number strongly opposed to the proposed law, at 19 percent.

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