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How Obama is winning the immigration debate
A new poll shows that a plurality of Americans backs Obama's handling of the issue
"We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate."
"We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate." John Gurzinski/Getty Images
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ill 2013 be the year that America finally gets comprehensive immigration reform? The GOP, still stinging after Mitt Romney garnered a measly 27 percent of the Latino vote in November, seems almost eager to work with Democrats to pass a bipartisan immigration bill. And the public seems on board, too: New polls show that more Americans approve of President Obama's handling of immigration than disapprove, and that an overwhelming majority back just the sort of measures he's offering.

A new Gallup poll shows wide-ranging support for measures in Obama's plan. For instance, 72 percent of Americans say undocumented workers living in the United States should have a chance to become citizens, and 85 percent agree that employers should be required to verify that all new hires are living in the country legally. And an ABC News/Washington Post poll released this morning finds that 49 percent Americans support Obama's handling of immigration versus 43 percent who disapprove. That's a drastic shift from last July, when only 38 percent approved of the White House's approach.

What's Obamas secret? Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown calls it his "fill-in-the-blank sales pitch," which, apparently, applies to everything from gun control to tax cuts. Obama's nine-step plan to selling his policies to the American public: "Tout what he's already done. Say the public's in his corner. Demand Congress do something. Lament Washington dysfunction. Lay out his own plan. Avoid details. Urge voters to keep up the pressure. Warn it won't be easy. Bask in the applause."

Obama put parts of that plan to action in Las Vegas on Tuesday, telling a group of supporters, "At this moment, it looks like there's a genuine desire to get this done soon … This time, action must follow. We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate."

Translation: Everyone is on my side, so get moving, Republicans.

Of course, it won't be that easy. As Hot Air's Ed Morrissey points out, even though 42 percent of Republican respondents in the Post's poll favor a path to citizenship for the nation's illegal immigrants — clearly causing GOP lawmakers to rethink their position — "border security has to be a solid win" for Republicans before they approve a normalization process. And that's easier said than done.

Indeed, while the poll results might seem like good news for Obama, liberals shouldn't celebrate yet, says Kevin Drum at Mother Jones.

[A] good rule of thumb is that on any contentious issue, you'd better start with at least 60 percent support. Two-thirds is even better. Because once the attack ads start running and the radio bloviators start bloviating, those numbers are going to slide downward. If "path to citizenship" is only polling at 55 percent before this stuff starts, it's not likely to stay in majority territory for very long. [Mother Jones]

So yes, the polls make it clear that today, Obama is winning on immigration. But that doesn't mean he's already won.

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