The political upside of Obama’s announcement that he’s ending deportation of DREAM-eligible youth is obvious, given the importance of the Latino vote in key southwestern battlegrounds. Is there any political downside?
Some speculated that Obama’s announcement could play badly among blue collar whites and perhaps even independents in key swing states. But new data from Quinnipiac suggests the move is mostly a wash even among those voters.
The toplines of today’s Quinnipiac polls show Obama leading in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. But dig deeper into the crosstabs and you find:
* In Florida, non-college whites support the policy, 45-44, and 59 percent of them say it will make no difference in their vote. Florida independents support the policy, 62-30.
* In Ohio, non-college whites tilt against the policy, but only by a slim margin, 47-43, and 55 percent of them say it will make no difference in their vote. Ohio independents support the policy, 54-39.
* In Pennsylvania, the margin among blue collar whites against the policy is a bit higher, at 48-43, but even here, 56 percent of them say it will make no difference to their vote. Pennsylvnia independents support the policy, 51-41.
As GOP strategist Ed Rollins suggested the other day, voters who are not ideologically unwilling to contemplate finding a way to grant legal status to illegal immigrants view the DREAM issue as one of fundamental fairness; many people know illegal immigrants and see them as just vying for their piece of the American Dream. If the above numbers are an accurate representation of public opinion, it’s hard to see this move as anything but a political winner for Obama. The clear support for Obama’s move among swing state independents also may help explain why Mitt Romney keeps equivocating on the policy and refusing to say whether he’d repeal it.