Like Bush, Many Republicans Are Moderate on Immigration
2:20 PMApr 12 By Nate Silver
The Republican Party has grown more conservative over the past couple of decades. But news commentators sometimes wrongly imply that GOP voters take an extremist position on every issue.
As I described on Friday, for example, Jeb Bush’s support of Common Core educational standards isn’t likely to hurt him if he runs for president in 2016; the issue is neither all that relevant to most Republicans nor all that divisive. If candidates running to Bush’s right are looking for a wedge issue, they’ll probably have some better choices.
What about immigration policy, for instance? Bush has staked out a moderate position on immigration, both rhetorically and substantively; last Sunday, he described immigrants who come to the United States illegally looking for work as having committed an “act of love.”
Immigration is a higher visibility issue than education policy. Even so, many Republican voters are sympathetic toward immigrants and immigration reform. Last year, FiveThirtyEight’s Micah Cohen compiled polls on Republican attitudes toward a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants and found that support varied depending on the requirements. An average of 37 percent of Republicans supported a pathway to citizenship without requirements, while 72 percent supported one if additional conditions, like the payment of back taxes and a criminal background check, were met.