Survey: Third-Generation Immigrants Lean More Republican than First- or Second-Generation

Candidates for US citizenship take the oath of allegiance to become US citizens during a Naturalization Ceremony for new US Citizens at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, November 17, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

A CATO Institute/YouGov survey released Tuesday found that third-generation immigrants lean more toward Republican principles than first- or second-generation immigrants.

According to the study, many Americans believe immigration offers some sort of electoral advantages for either side. Among all the Americans, 50 percent say immigrants help the Democrats, 7 percent think immigration helps Republicans, and 42 percent believe immigration does not help either party.

The CATO Institute/YouGov survey asked 2,600 U.S. adults to explore and examine why American’s either support or oppose more open immigration. The survey was done between March 5-15, 2021, with a margin of error of +/- 2.21 percent. The survey was asked in English.

The survey found when examining the partisanship of Americans by their immigration background shows that immigrants who are native-born and are not second-generation immigrants happen to either identify or lean with the Democrat Party. In addition, the sample shows of the first generation that 48 percent identified or leaned Democrat and 26 percent said they were Republican, while 26 percent said they were independent.

Among second-generation immigrants, a majority (58 percent) identified or leaned Democrat while 29 percent said they were Republican, and only 18 percent said they were independent.

Looking among third-generation immigrants, 44 percent identified or leaned Democrat, making this the least number of Democrats out of all three generations. In comparison, 40 percent of them said they were Republican, making this the highest number of Republicans. Only 16 percent identified as independent, making this the smallest amount of independents.

The immigrants who were liberals and conservatives felt differently towards other immigrants depending on the political party they had chosen to identify with. Fifty-eight percent of the “very liberal” and 49 percent of “liberal” immigrants have unfavorable views toward immigrants who identify with the Republican party. Though for immigrants who identify as liberal, 87 percent of “very liberal” and 75 percent of “liberal” have favorable opinions of immigrants who join the Democrat Party.

On the other side of the aisle, of immigrants who join the Republican party, 67 percent of “very conservative” and 58 percent of “conservative” have favorable views of immigrants who register as Republicans. Though, the survey shows that conservatives turn even stronger against immigrants if they register as Democrats. Seventy-two percent of “very conservative” and 55 percent of “conservative” immigrants have unfavorable views of immigrants who identify as Democrats.

As CATO notes, “these data show that while political views significantly color partisans’ attitudes of immigrants, liberals tend to have more favorable feelings toward immigrants than conservatives, regardless of immigrants voter behavior.”

In addition, the survey also found a supermajority (74 percent) of third-generation and higher immigrants believe it is “extremely or very important for immigrants to ‘be loyal to Americans and the United States.'” Compared to only 53 percent of second-generation immigrants  believe it is “extremely or very important for immigrants to ‘be loyal to Americans and the United States.'”

Moreover, the findings showed in an overwhelming majority (71 percent) of the third-generation to be “extremely or very important for immigrants to be self-reliant, versus only 57 percent of the second-generation found it is “extremely or very important for immigrants to be self-reliant.”

Lastly, 54 percent of third-generation and higher immigrants believe it is extremely or very important to be fluent in English, compared to only 45 percent for second-generation immigrants.


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