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Americans react to Obama's immigration decision

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks about the Department of Homeland Security's recent announcement about deportation of illegal immigrants in the Rose Garden at the White House June 15, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Jeremy Hobson: Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and President Obama will both be speaking to Hispanic leaders at a gathering in Orlando this week. The speeches come just days after the Obama Administration announced it will ease immigration laws.

Which brings us to Attitude Check: Our weekly partnership with Gallup. Frank Newport is Gallup's editor-in-chief and he joins us now. Good morning.

Frank Newport: Good morning.

Hobson:  Well, how do Americans feel overall about what the Obama administration did on immigration last week?

Newport: Taken in isolation, every bit of data I've seen show Americans approve. We had asked about something similar -- the so-called DREAM Act -- a few months ago, and a majority of Americans approved. There's at least one poll done by Bloomberg News which has been conducted since his announcement. They tried to list exactly what the Obama administration put forth last Friday, and they found, too, a significant majority of Americans approved of it.

So, in and of itself, Americans think that's a good idea -- not to deport these young children of illegal immigrants if they meet certain requirements.

Hobson: What about Hispanic voters in particular? Is there any difference there?

Newport: Well, you know, the polls don't have enough sample of Hispanic voters in a typical, smaller poll like that to be able to isolate. So, the assumption is that Hispanic voters would be positive about what the Obama administration did, but we don't have large enough samples to be able to isolate that precisely.

Hobson: Well then, do we know about one of the things that Republicans in particular have been talking about, which is that Hispanic voters don't vote on single issues -- that they are interested in the economy just like everybody else?

Newport: That's absolutely correct. Keep in mind that you have to be a registered voter to vote, and registered voter Hispanics are a significantly small percentage of the overall Hispanic population. And although immigration issues are important, some new research that we're doing shows that registered voters who are Hispanics are just as interested in many of the economic issues that concern everybody else as they are on immigration issues specifically.

Hobson: Let me ask you about one more thing, Frank -- there's been a lot of buzz, as this immigration story has played out, about Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, and whether maybe Mitt Romney will put him on the ticket as vice-president. What do we know about voter attitudes towards him?

Newport: We know that a lot of voters have no attitudes towards Senator Rubio because they've never heard of him.  You know, we asked our classic name ID question just a bit ago. And over half of Americans scratched their head and said: who?

Those Americans who do know him enough to give an opinion -- a little over four out of ten can give an opinion on Marco Rubio -- the attitudes were somewhat more positive than negative, but already partisan. He's already seen among those who know thim as a partisan in the sense that Republicans really like him, and Democrats have a net-negative impression of the young man (he's only in his young 40s). Democrats already have a negative impression of him even before he's really burst on to the national stage.

Hobson: Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup. Thanks so much as always.

Newport: My pleasure.

About the author

Frank Newport, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief at Gallup and appears regularly on Marketplace.

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