Voters In Ohio Voice Opposition To Gov’t Help For Illegal Immigrants

Voters in Ohio voice opposition to government help for illegal immigrants

Views could play a key role for presidential candidates in the upcoming elections.

By William Hershey
Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

COLUMBUS Sen. Hillary Clinton may broadly support New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to provide driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, but that position could cause her trouble in Ohio.

Ohio voters overwhelmingly oppose government help for illegal immigrants, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday.

The poll found strong opposition to a range of privileges and benefits. Its results should send a strong message to all presidential candidates that Ohio voters favor toughness over accommodation, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Gov. Spitzer on Wednesday withdrew his plan to issue driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. He said that he had concluded that New York could not address the problem on its own.

While Democrats may be better positioned on the war and the economy, immigration is an “area the Republicans might be able to exploit,” Brown said. “Republican candidates seem to be more supportive of what the voters seem to say they want.”

What to do about the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants has become a volatile campaign issue. Other Republican candidates have criticized Rudolph Giuliani for not taking a harder line when he was New York mayor. Sen. Clinton, D-N.Y., was criticized for appearing to stumble over a question about driver's licenses for illegal immigrants during an Oct. 30 debate.

The poll found little wavering among Ohio voters:

84 percent oppose issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

86 percent oppose providing illegal immigrants with government-financed health care.

85 percent oppose providing social services such as food stamps and welfare to illegal immigrants.

82 percent support stricter penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

61 percent oppose providing a public education to children of those in the U.S. illegally.

60 percent support a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border.

55 percent said illegal immigrants should be allowed to work for legal status; 38 percent favored deportation.

The poll conducted Nov. 6 through Sunday with 1,231 voters has an error margin of plus or minus 2.8 percent.