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Independents Join Democrats in Greater Support for More Guest Workers

United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll shows independents leaning left on some immigration questions.

It's no surprise immigration-friendly Democrats prefer allowing more guest workers than closed-border Republicans. But what might raise eyebrows, and give the GOP some pause, is that when it comes opening up the country to more temporary workers, independents side with the Democrats.

The latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll found a significant split between the two parties on whether more or fewer guest workers should be allowed in the country for a certain field of work. In general, Democrats are still hostile to allowing more guest workers, but less so than their GOP counterparts.

But results among independents, generally considered the most important politically of the three partisan groups, consistently mirror those of the left-leaning party.

When asked about guest workers in agriculture, 46 percent of Democrats said more should be allowed in the United States, while 43 percent said fewer. Among Republicans, the opposite was true: 41 percent favored a larger number of guest workers, and 49 percent voted for fewer.

Independents, by 47 percent to 39 percent, backed more guest workers.

Of the three fields mentioned, agriculture was the only one in which Democrats and independents supported a more robust guest-worker program. But in the other two industries "“ construction and high-tech industries "“ both groups continued to show a greater willingness to let foreigners participate than Republicans.

In the high-tech industry, 38 percent of Democrats said they wanted more guest workers; 53 percent supported fewer. Independents backed more guest workers 37 percent to 53 percent.

Among the GOP, however, only 28 percent backed more guest workers, compared with the 65 percent who didn't.

Overall, both parties and independents supported a smaller guest-worker presence in construction than in the high-tech industry or agriculture. But again, Democrats and independents were more inclined to let foreign nationals in the country. Thirty-one percent of Democrats backed allowing more guest workers, while 60 percent wanted fewer. Among independents, 34 percent wanted more guest workers, and 58 percent wanted fewer.

But just 22 percent of Republicans wanted more guest workers, and 71 percent wanted fewer.

The poll, conducted by the Princeton Survey Research Associates, surveyed 1,004 adults from June 13 to June 16. The live telephone interviews included calls to landlines and cell phones, and has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.