September 23, 2014

Neither Party Gets Good Marks from Its Base for Handling Illegal Immigration

Republicans Unhappy with GOP’s Approach to Several Major Issues

Survey Report

Partisans Rate Their Party on Illegal ImmigrationAs the current session of Congress comes to a close without significant action to address illegal immigration, neither Republicans nor Democrats are especially happy with the way their respective parties have dealt with the issue.

Just 37% of Republicans and Republican leaners think the GOP is doing a good job representing their views on illegal immigration; 56% say they are not doing a good job. Democrats are more positive about their party’s handling of the issue. Still, about as many Democrats and Democratic leaners say the party is not doing a good job (44%) on immigration as say that it is (47%).

Republicans and Democrats who are unhappy with way their party has handled immigration differ in their criticisms. A third of Republicans (33%) say the party has not done a good job on immigration because it is too willing to allow immigrants living in the U.S. illegally to gain legal status; just 18% say it has not done a good job because it is not willing enough to allow immigrants living in the U.S. illegally to gain legal status.

On the Democratic side, as many fault their party for being too willing to allow legal status for people here illegally (21%) as for being too unwilling to allow them legal status (20%).

Republicans More Negative About Their Party’s Handling of Key IssuesThe new Pew Research Center survey, conducted Sept. 2-9, 2014 among 2,002 adults, including 863 Republicans and Republican leaners, and 913 Democrats and Democratic leaners finds that Republicans are more critical than Democrats of their party’s handling of four major issues: illegal immigration, abortion, government spending and same-sex marriage. (For a look at how religious groups rate their parties, see this report, released Sept. 22 by the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.)

Most Republicans and Republican leaners (60%) say the GOP is not doing a good job of representing their views on government spending. And 53% of Republicans say the party is not doing a good job of representing their views on same-sex marriage. On the issue of abortion, Republicans are divided (44% good job, 45% not a good job).

Democrats have more positive views of the way their party is handling all four issues: About six-in-ten say that the party does a good job of representing their views on same-sex marriage (62%) and abortion (61%). However, only about half of Democrats say their party is doing well on government spending (49%) and immigration (47%).

GOP Divisions over Party’s Approach to Illegal Immigration

Republicans and Democrats who say their party does not do a good job of representing their views on these issues were asked if their party is “too willing” or “not willing enough” allow legal status for those living in the U.S. illegally, cut government spending, restrict abortion and accept same-sex marriage.

Older Republicans More Critical of GOP’s Handling of Illegal ImmigrationOlder Republicans and Republican leaners are more critical of the party on illegal immigration and more likely to fault the party for being too willing to allow immigrants living in the U.S. illegally to gain legal status.

Most Republicans 35 and older (60%) say the party is not doing a good job of representing their views on illegal immigration, compared with 33% who say it is doing a good job. By contrast, Republicans under 35 are divided: 48% say the party is doing a good job and 45% say it is not.

By wide margins, older Republicans who are unhappy with the party’s stance on illegal immigration say it is too willing to allow undocumented immigrants to get legal status. Among those under 35, 20% say it too willing to allow legal status, while about as many (24%) say it is not willing enough.

As many conservative Republicans as moderate and liberal Republicans (56% each) say the party is not doing a job of representing their views on illegal immigration. But by 36% to 14%, conservatives are more likely to fault the GOP for being too willing to allow legal status for undocumented immigrants. Among moderate and liberal Republicans, about as many say the party is “too willing” to allow legal status (28%) as it is “not willing enough” to do.

Hispanic Democrats Have Mixed Views of Their Party’s Handling of Illegal ImmigrationDemocrats also are divided over how the party is handling illegal immigration. Black Democrats (63%) are more likely than Hispanic (45%) or white Democrats (42%) to say the party does a good job on illegal immigration.

Hispanic Democrats are much more likely than whites or blacks to criticize the party for not being willing enough to allow legal status for people in the U.S. illegally. Four-in-ten Hispanic Democrats (40%) think the party is not doing a good job on this issue and say it is not willing enough to allow legal status; that compares with just 17% of white Democrats and 13% of black Democrats.

Partisans’ Views of Their Parties on Same-Sex Marriage

Many Younger Republicans Fault Party for Unwillingness to Accept Same-Sex Marriage About half of Republicans and Republican leaners (53%) say the party is not doing a good job of representing their views on same-sex marriage; 28% are unhappy because the GOP is not  willing enough to accept gay marriage, while 22% fault the party for being too willing to accept it.

Across all age groups, more Republicans view the party negatively than positively for its handling of same-sex marriage.

However, among younger Republicans more say the party is not willing enough, rather than too willing, to accept same-sex marriage. Among those 18-34, 36% say the party is not doing a good job on gay marriage and criticize it for not being willing enough to accept gay marriage; about half as many (17%) say it is not willing enough. Opinion is similar among Republicans 35 to 49 (35% not willing enough vs. 17% too willing).

Republicans who are 50-64 are divided; equal percentages fault the party for being too willing, and not willing enough, to accept same-sex marriage (25% each). Among those 65 and older, more say it is too willing to accept gay marriage (27% vs. 14%).

Black Democrats More Likely than Whites to Criticize Party for Being Too Accepting of Gay MarriageDemocrats are divided along racial and ethnic lines over the party’s approach to same-sex marriage. Fully 70% of white Democrats say the party is doing a good job of representing their views on same-sex marriage. The small share of whites who say the party is not doing a good job on this issue are divided over the reason why; 11% say it is because the party is too willing, and 9% not wiling enough, to accept same-sex marriage.

Black Democrats have more negative views of how the party deals with same-sex marriage. Just 52% say it is doing a good job of representing their views. Blacks who criticize the party are far more likely to say it is too willing (30%) than not willing enough (13%) to accept same-sex marriage.

Hispanic Democrats express more negative views of the party’s handling of same-sex marriage (52% good job, 33% not a good job). But about as many Hispanic Democrats say the party is not willing enough to accept gay marriage (16%) as say it is too willing (13%).

Republicans Give Party Low Marks on Government Spending

Reps View Their Party Negatively on Spending; Dems Are Divided Most Republicans and Republican leaners (60%) say the GOP is not doing a good job representing their views on government spending, and those who express negative views of the party on this issue overwhelmingly criticize it for not being willing enough to cut spending. Nearly half of Republicans (48%) say the party is not doing a good job and say it is not willing enough to cut spending; just 8% criticize the GOP for being too willing to cut spending.

Democrats are divided over their party’s handling of government spending: 49% say the party is doing a good job while 45% say it is not. By 30% to 12%, more Democrats say the party is not willing enough, rather than too willing, to cut government spending.

Democrats More Positive about Party’s Approach to Abortion

More Dems than Reps Say Their Party Does ‘Good Job’ on Abortion Republican and Republican leaners are divided over their party’s approach to abortion: 44% say it does a good job of representing their views on abortion while 45% disagree.

About a quarter of Republicans (24%) say the party is not doing a good job and say it is not willing enough to put restrictions on abortion; nearly as many (19%) say it is too willing to restrict abortion.

Democrats, by more than two-to-one (61% to 28%), say their party does a good job of representing their views.  Roughly equal shares of Democrats say the party is not willing enough (16%), and too willing (11%), to restrict abortion.