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Payback on election day for GOP lawmakers who vote for immigration reform?

A new poll concludes that nearly half of Republican voters would be less likely to re-elect a politician who votes for immigration reform.
A new poll concludes that nearly half of Republican voters would be less likely to re-elect a politician who votes for immigration reform.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

There has been a careful dance on the Senate side of Congress. A bipartisan group of lawmakers crafted a bill, then crafted a compromise with Republican colleagues to include tougher border security measures. That "border surge" measure guaranteed enough GOP votes to get past the 60 vote filibuster line.

But will there be payback on election day for Senators who vote for immigration?

According to a new United Technologies/National Journal poll, the answer is "yes."

The poll asked registered voters whether in the next election they'd be more or  less likely to support a Senator or Representative who votes for an immigration reform bill that included a path to citizenship.

Among Democrats, just one in five said it would make them less likely to vote to re-elect that lawmaker. Nearly half said it made no difference one way or the other.

But nearly half of Republicans respondents said a "yes" vote on a comprehensive immigration package  would make them less likely to cast a vote to re-elect that politician. Just 15 percent said a "yes" vote would make them more likely to vote to re-elect. Nearly one in three voters was indifferent, saying it would make no difference.

The strongest opposition to a vote for a pathway to citizenship comes from whites without a college degree and rural voters. Forty-five percent of each group said they are less likely to support lawmakers voting for a path to citizenship. 

College-educated whites are split on the question: about a third said it would make them more likely to support their lawmaker, a third said it would make them less likely, and a third said it made no difference. The National Journal says suburban voters were "less tolerant, but still more open than their rural counterparts."

The poll highlights the challenges ahead in the House of Representatives.

Republican lawmakers have in recent years been challenged in Congressional primaries by more conservative politicians who often characterize votes on bipartisan bills as evidence that a member is a RINO — Republican In Name Only. The poll highlights the danger ahead for Republican House members voting on immigration.

The GOP-led House is working on a series of individual measures sponsored by Republicans. They include an agricultural worker bill with no path to citizenship, and a measure that endorses local sheriffs taking on immigration enforcement. This week, the House Judiciary Committee votes on a mandatory E-verify measure and an increase in the number of visas for highly skilled workers.

The bipartisan "Gang of Seven" in the House has yet to introduce its comprehensive bill.