Cruz pollster part of group stressing need for immigration reform

Sixteen Republican pollsters, including several who have polled for tea party figures and groups, helped conduct national surveys for a pro-immigration reform group and conclude in a memo being released Wednesday that embracing reform, including a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, "generates a more positive electoral environment for Republicans."

The team of pollsters from 10 firms notably includes Chris Perkins, who has polled for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), and Jon Lerner, who has been a top consultant of the antitax Club for Growth. It also includes pollsters who have worked for more moderate Republicans.

But the findings come as the hopes in the GOP of moving ahead with reform were significantly dampened Tuesday when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost his primary in stunning fashion. Cantor's backing of a GOP version of the Dream Act -- which would allow some illegal immigrants who entered the country as children to qualify for in-state college tuition rates -- irked some on the right.

 

At the same time, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who was part of a bipartisan group of senators who helped pass a sweeping reform measure that included a path to citizenship, easily won his primary Tuesday.

The group conducted surveys for FWD.us, a pro-reform group spearheaded by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg that embraced the bill that passed the Senate last year. The pollsters will detail their findings at a Wednesday morning news conference in Washington.

The pollsters conducted two surveys: One of 800 Hispanic voters from May 27 to June 1 and one of 800 voters (including an oversample of Republican voters) from May 17 to 23.

In a memo shared with Post Politics, the pollsters write that nearly half (49 percent) of Hispanic voters blame Republicans in Congress for failing to pass reform and more than three in four (76 percent) say they would be more likely to listen to what Republicans have to say on other issues if they support reform.

They also write that the proposed terms of a path to citizenship embraced by reform advocates should assuage fears that it amounts to "amnesty."

"There is a strong sentiment in the country that undocumented immigrants should not be granted amnesty; this immigration reform proposal addresses that issue by requiring that undocumented immigrants pay a fine, taxes owed, learn English​ and wait at least thirteen years until they can become citizens," the pollsters write.

They conclude: "This generates a more positive electoral environment for Republicans, as it creates an opening to a significant number of swing votes for GOP candidates."

Here's the complete list of pollsters who signed on to the effort:

Linda DiVall, American Viewpoint
Randall Gutermuth, American Viewpoint
Jon Lerner, Basswood Research
Greg Strimple, GS Strategy Group
Brooks Kochvar, GS Strategy Group
Hans Kaiser, Moore Information
Whit Ayres, North Star Opinion Research
Dan Judy, North Star Opinion Research
Jon McHenry, North Star Opinion Research
Kellyanne Conway, The Polling Company Inc.
Neil Newhouse, Public Opinion Strategies
Brian Tringali, Tarrance Group
B.J. Martino, Tarrance Group
Chris Perkins, Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research
David Winston, The Winston Group
Myra Miller, The Winston Group

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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