Elon University Poll shows immigration is important issue in N.C.; citizens divided over impact
A new Elon University Poll shows immigration is an important
issue to North Carolinians, but citizens seem to be divided
over whether recent immigration has been good or bad for the
The poll, conducted April 2-6 by the Elon University
Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 677 North
Carolina residents. The poll has a margin of error of plus or
minus 3.8 percent.
Seventy-one percent of citizens said immigration is a very
important issue, 23 percent said it was somewhat important
and 6 percent said it was not important at all. In a February
2006 Elon University Poll, 62 percent of citizens said
immigration was a very important issue.
When asked whether recent immigration of Hispanics and Latinos to the state has been good or bad for North Carolina, 44 percent said it has been bad, 26 percent said it has been good and 16 percent said it hasn’t made much of a difference. Thirty-three percent said they thought immigrants come to North Carolina to escape conditions in their own country, 27 percent said immigrants come to take advantage of conditions in North Carolina, and 36 percent said immigrants come for both reasons.
Respondents were presented with a choice of statements to describe their view about immigration. Fifty-three percent said immigrants are a burden on the state because they take jobs, housing and health care, while 29 percent said immigrants strengthen the state because of their hard work and talents. Eight percent said neither statement reflected their opinion.
“There is obviously a great deal of concern about
immigration in this state, but there is also some recognition
of the contributions made by the Hispanic and Latino
community,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon
University Poll. “Ultimately, it appears this issue
hinges on whether North Carolinians can resolve their
dissonance over whether immigrants are ‘getting
more’ or ‘giving more’ to the state. Right
now, it appears the public perception tilts toward the
opinion that immigrants are getting more than they are
Respondents were also presented with a series of questions
to determine what makes immigration an issue to them. Seventy
percent said immigration was an issue to them because they
believe providing services to immigrants, such as schools and
health care, costs too much. Seventy-two percent said
immigration is an issue because they believe immigrants
don’t pay their fair share of taxes.
A majority of North Carolinians, 72 percent, did not agree
with the statement that immigration is an issue
“because they are the wrong kind of people coming to
the state.” A slight majority, 52 percent, said
immigration was an issue because immigrants take jobs away
from North Carolinians; 44 percent did not agree with that
statement. Similarly, state residents were split on whether
immigration is an issue because “there’s too much
Spanish spoken and everyone should speak English only.”
Forty-eight percent agreed with that statement, while 47
Fifty-two percent of citizens said they believe most of the
recent immigrants to their area are there illegally, while 18
percent said they are there legally. Twenty-four percent said
they don’t know.
Sixty-three percent of citizens said they disagree or
strongly disagree with proposals that would allow
undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. for several years
as long as they have a job. Thirty-two percent agree or
strongly agree with such proposals.
“Though citizens are aware of the economic contribution offered by the immigrant population, this perspective is being overshadowed by the burden the public perceives immigrants impose on state services,” Bacot said.
Poll results were also distributed across party
identification. Eighty percent of Republican respondents said
immigration is very important to them, compared with 62
percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Independents.
Sixty-three percent of Republicans said immigrants are a
burden to the state, while 48 percent of Democrats and 48
percent of Independents said immigrants are a burden.
Thirty-seven of Democrats and 33 percent of Independents said
immigrants strengthen the state because of their work ethic
and talents, while 20 percent of Republicans said immigrants
strengthen the state.
“It is quite clear that the divide over immigration is based on party identification, so it will be interesting to see whether the issue holds well for the Republican party in upcoming elections,” Bacot said. “It could prove to be a very important issue for Republicans, who need to divert attention away from an unpopular president and war as the election season approaches.”
The Elon University Poll has conducted several polls annually since 2000. The non-partisan Elon University Poll conducts frequent scientific telephone polls on issues of importance citizens. The poll results are shared with media, citizens and researchers to facilitate representative democracy and public policy making through the better understanding of the opinions and needs of citizens in the state and region.