When asked if they preferred a big government offering more services or a smaller government providing less, second-generation Hispanics were less likely than the first generation to support a big government, 71 percent to 83 percent. The same trend of declining support applied to second-generation Asians, 47 percent to 57 percent. Still, support among second-generation Americans for big government was higher than that of the general public, which stood at 39 percent.
The study's findings come as a fiscally conservative GOP is seeking ways to expand its shrinking base of aging white voters. Some Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, are now urging their party to embrace an overhaul of immigration laws, including a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, to prevent Democrats from using the issue as a wedge in future elections.
Due to immigration and high births, particularly among Hispanics, first- and second-generation immigrants now make up 1 in 4 U.S. residents. They are projected to rise to more than 1 in 3 by 2050. The two groups will represent as much as 93 percent of the growth in the U.S. working age-population between now and midcentury.
Since President Reagan garnered 37 percent of the Hispanic vote in 1980, Hispanic support for Republican presidential nominees has generally fallen, reaching 27 percent last November, according to exit polling conducted for the television networks and The Associated Press. The exceptions: 2000 and 2004, when an immigration-friendly Republican, George W. Bush, won after capturing 35 percent and 44 percent of the Latino vote, respectively. Among Asian-Americans, GOP support has steadily dropped from 55 percent in 1992 to 26 percent last November.
Among the report's findings:
—Better off: Adults in the second generation as a whole do better than those in the first generation in median household income ($58,000 vs. $46,000); college degrees (36 percent vs. 29 percent); and homeownership (64 percent vs. 51 percent). They are also less likely to be in poverty.
—Group relations: About 52 percent of Hispanics and 64 percent of Asian-Americans from the second generation say their group gets along well with all other racial and ethnic groups. That's compared to 26 percent of Latinos and 49 percent of Asians from the first generation. In terms of marriage, about 26 percent of Hispanics and 23 percent of Asian Americans in the second generation have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, significantly higher than in the first generation.
—Language use: About 9 in 10 second-generation Hispanic and Asian-Americans can speak English "well" or "very well," substantially more than the immigrant generations.
AP polling director Jennifer Agiesta and news survey specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.
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