Half of all Americans — and 83 percent of Hispanics — say they would be disappointed if the House does not pass legislation instituting a path to citizenship. But Republican rank-and-file oppose such a provision, making it a central sticking point in GOP deliberations over the legislation.
Republican leaders have highlighted Hispanic outreach as a major part of their strategy to win the White House in 2016. But the poll shows that Republicans would bear the brunt of responsibility should a path to citizenship not be included in the final bill.
Tension over immigration is not the only challenge facing Republicans, according to the poll. For the first time in Post surveys, a slim majority of rank-and-file Republicans disapprove of the direction that the party’s leadership is taking the GOP.
The poll also reminds Democrats of the head winds they may face in the 2014 midterm elections as they fight to hold their majority in the Senate and make inroads in the GOP-controlled House. Public impressions of the president’s signature health-reform law are still more negative than positive, and the detractors are more passionate about their views than advocates.
In addition, Obama’s approval rating stands at 49 percent, dipping under 50 percent for the first time in nearly a year. And on the eve of a new round of speeches by Obama highlighting his economic agenda, assessments of his handling of the economy remain slightly negative and show no sign of improving.
On immigration, the focus is now on the House, where GOP leaders face a series of difficult policy and political choices.
The Senate recently approved a comprehensive bill that includes a path to citizenship and about $46 billion in new spending on border security. Overall, Americans divide evenly on the bill, with 46 percent supporting the package and 44 percent opposing. Among Hispanics, 66 percent back the Senate bill, as do 50 percent of independents (with 40 percent against).
Among Republicans, however, 62 percent oppose the Senate package, most saying they strongly oppose it. An identical 62 percent of Republicans say they would be relieved if the House opted against a path to citizenship in any form.
Last week, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found clear majority support for both the pathway to legal status and tighter border controls, even with its multibillion-dollar price tag. Still, relatively few in that poll — particularly among Republicans — supported both major components, an indication of the challenges ahead for those seeking to build a majority coalition for comprehensive legislation.