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Cronkite-Eight Poll

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Contact: Dr. Bruce Merrill at (480) 965-7051

Voters Want to Tighten Border Security
but Favor Allowing Illegal Immigrants to Stay and Earn Citizenship

Other Findings:

• Recent marches to protest immigration legislation appear to have backfired against demonstrators

• President Bush continues to receive low performance ratings in Arizona

• Governor Napolitano receives a high job rating

• Kyl lead in Senate race narrows

TEMPE, Ariz. – Nearly half of the registered voters in Arizona want stronger border security to stop illegal immigration, according to a new Cronkite/Eight Poll. Forty-three percent of the state's voters support allowing the nearly 13 million people illegally in the United States to register here and to earn U.S. citizenship if they have been in the country for several years. Another 18 percent said these immigrants should be allowed to register in a guest worker program.

The statewide telephone poll of 380 registered voters conducted by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and Eight/KAET-TV also found that 83 percent of those interviewed support stronger penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants. Sixty-three percent favor sending more Arizona National Guard troops to the border and 57 percent support building a fence along the border. Opinion was divided, 44 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed, about making it a felony for people to help illegal immigrants. Voters also were divided over whether or not to criminalize being in the country illegally. Forty-two percent favored making it a felony to be in the country illegally; 51 percent were opposed and 7 percent were undecided.

A majority of Arizonans (67 percent) was opposed to denying educational benefits to children of illegal immigrants and 52 percent opposed requiring illegal immigrants to return to their home country before they could be considered for guest worker programs or citizenship. A majority also said that the recent marches held to protest proposed legislation about illegal immigration hurt (52 percent) rather than helped (31 percent) the cause of the protestors.

Meanwhile, the poll also found that President Bush continues to receive poor marks in Arizona. Forty-two percent approved of the job he is doing as president, 47 percent approved of the way he is handling the war on terrorism, 41 percent liked what he is doing with the economy and 36 percent approved of the way he is handling the war in Iraq.

With the 2006 elections fast approaching, the Cronkite/Eight poll also found that voters in Arizona continue to approve of the way Gov. Janet Napolitano is doing her job. In the recent poll, 73 percent of those polled approved of the job she is doing leading the state, 22 percent disapproved and 5 percent said they had no opinion. Her job performance rating last September was 69 percent favorable, 19 percent unfavorable with 12 percent undecided.

Arizona's race between Republican incumbent Jon Kyl and Democratic challenger and former state Democratic Party chairman Jim Pederson is expected to be one of the most important and hotly contested U.S. Senate races this year. The poll found Kyl leading by 11 percentage points, 42 percent to 31 percent, with 27 percent undecided. Kyl's lead was 22 percent three months ago.

Dr. Bruce Merrill, a Cronkite School professor and nationally known pollster who conducts the monthly survey, noted that, “Illegal immigration and what to do about it will be the major issue facing voters in Arizona this election cycle. Arizonans are increasingly frustrated and conflicted about what should be done. On the one hand, they want stronger enforcement and a more secure border to stop illegal immigration. On the other hand, a majority feels that illegal immigrants who have been in the country for some years should be allowed to stay, register, pay taxes and be put on a path to earn citizenship. How candidates from both parities handle this issue will be a major factor in who wins and who loses.” Dr. Merrill also feels that “The race between Senator Kyl and Jim Pederson may end up being one of the hottest senate races in the country. Both candidates are

competent, well managed and well financed. How the candidates handle the border issues and Bush's dwindling support will be key factors in the outcome of the race.”

The survey, which was conducted between April 20 and April 23, 2006, has a sampling error of plus or minus 5 percent. Fifty-nine percent of the interviews were conducted in Maricopa County, 17 percent in Pima County, and 24 percent in the less populated counties. The sample was 40 percent Republican, 35 percent Democrat and 25 percent independent. Fifty-two percent of voters interviewed were female and 48 percent were male.

Question wording:

1. There is a lot of discussion these days about how to handle the problem of illegal immigration. What do you think is the most important thing that needs to be done?

  % responses
Secure the border/enforce the laws/insist they come in legally 48
Expand guest worker program/make it easier for workers to come in 19
Penalize employers 11
Ship all in the country illegally back to Mexico/no amnesty 7
Deny any state or federal benefits 3
Put pressure on Mexican government to improve their economy 3
Treat people who are here humanely 2
Other mentions 7


2. There are between 12 and 13 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. What do you feel should be done about the illegal immigrants already living in the U.S.?

  % responses
If they have been here awhile let them earn citizenship after registering 43%
Allow them to become guest workers 18
Ship them back to Mexico/deny amnesty 16
Enforce the laws, criminalize if stay illegally 10
Penalize employers 8
Grant amnesty 5

Now, I'm going to read to you a few suggestions that have been made about immigration reform. Please tell me if you favor or oppose each one. If you don't have an opinion, just tell me and I'll go on to the next one. Let's start with-

3. Do you favor or oppose making it a felony to be in the country illegally?

Favor 42%
Oppose 51%
Don't know 7 %


4. Do you favor or oppose making it a felony to help people who are in the country illegally?

Favor 44%
Oppose 48%
Don't know 8 %


5. Would you favor or oppose building a fence along the Arizona-Mexico border?

Favor 57%
Oppose 37%
Don't know 6 %


6. Would you favor or oppose penalizing businesses that fail to verify the legal status of the people they hire?

Favor 83%
Oppose 14%
Don't know 3 %


7. Would you favor or oppose sending more Arizona National Guard troops to help out with border enforcement?

Favor 63%
Oppose 32%
Don't know 5 %


8. Would you favor or oppose requiring all illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. to return to their native country before they would be eligible for any type of legal status in the U.S.?

Favor 38%
Oppose 52%
Don't know 10%


9. Would you favor or oppose denying educational benefits to children born in the U.S. to parents who are in the country illegally?

Favor 24%
Oppose 67%
Don't know 9%


10. Now, thinking about the recent marches that were held to protest immigration reforms, do you think the marches helped or hurt the cause of workers who are in the country illegally?

Helped 31%
Hurt 52%
Don't know 17%


11. Overall, how would you rate the job George Bush is doing as President of the United States? Do you

strongly approve 10%
approve 32%
disapprove or 17%
strongly disapprove 38%
don't know 3 %


12. How would you rate the way Bush is handling the U.S. economy? Do you

strongly approve 11%
approve 30%
disapprove 25%
strongly disapprove 26%
don't know 8%



13. How would you rate Bush in terms of how he is handling the war in Iraq? Do you

strongly approve 10%
approve 26 %
disapprove 21 %
strongly disapprove 40 %
don't know 3 %


14. How would you rate Bush in terms of how he is handling the war against terrorism? Do you

strongly approve 13%
approve 34 %
disapprove 22 %
strongly disapprove 25 %
don't know 6 %


15. Overall, how would you rate the job Janet Napolitano is doing as governor of Arizona? Do you

strongly approve 23%
approve 50 %
disapprove 16 %
strongly disapprove 6 %
don't know 5 %


16. As you probably know, Republican U.S. Senator Jon Kyl is running for re-election this fall, His opponent is businessman and former Democratic state chairman Jim Pederson. At this early date, would you probably support

Kyl or 42%
Pederson? 31%
don't know 27 %


Eight/KAET-TV is a member-supported service of Arizona State University.
For information contact: Dr. Bruce Merrill at (480) 965-7051.