Just before President Obama delivered his fourth State of the Union address to Congress, Dr. Robert P. Jones outlined the state of public opinion on the issues that Obama was likely to address in his speech at his Washington Post blog, “Figuring Faith.” Dr. Jones pointed specifically to PRRI findings on immigration, climate change, economic inequality, gun control, and gay and lesbian issues, highlighting the divides as well as points of agreement among the American people, beginning with immigration reform, which is currently being debated in Congress:

Overall, when given the choice between a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that couples enforcement with a path to citizenship, and a deportation-only approach, Americans prefer the comprehensive approach over the enforcement-only approach by a large margin (62 percent vs. 36 percent).

However, Republicans are nearly evenly divided, with half (50 percent) favoring the comprehensive approach and almost half (48 percent) favoring the deportation-only approach. Meanwhile, a solid majority (57 percent) of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party favor the deportation-only approach, while only approximately 4-in-10 (41 percent) support comprehensive reform. In fact, the 40-point gap between Tea Party identifiers and Hispanic Americans is one of the largest on this issue: more than 8-in-10 (81 percent) Hispanic Americans favor comprehensive reform. These divisions do not bode well for bipartisan immigration reform efforts, and highlight the role that Senator Rubio – a Tea Party darling who has also been one of the Republican Party’s most vocal advocates for immigration reform – must play in the upcoming negotiations.

To read about Americans’ perspectives on the other issues, check out the full post at “Figuring Faith.”

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