From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Hillary Clinton, take note. Two in three New Yorkers do not support Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, according to a new Siena Research Institute at Siena College poll.
Just 28% are in favor of the plan -- only 3% strongly support the plan -- as compared to 65% who oppose, including a third who strongly oppose. Nearly seven in 10 say driver's licenses are "a privilege" and that "nobody here illegally should be able to have one." Only a quarter believe giving illegal immigrants drivers licenses would make the roads safer and thereby bring insurance costs down. Half even believe that giving illegal immigrants drivers licenses would be a threat to national security. More than half do not believe the governor's plan is a good way to get the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants already living in New York state "out of the shadows and give them the same responsibilities as legal resident drivers in New York."
In fairness, it's not just Hillary Clinton who needs to take note of polls like this one. It's Democrats, in general. Immigration -- couched as border security -- is undoubtedly going to be a way Republicans look to change the conversation on national security from Iraq. It's a political winner for them. McCain already felt the buzz saw that is American public opinion on immigration and has since shifted his position. Clinton's ambiguous answer at the debate highlights what she knows will be a general-election problem for Democrats if they take a definitive position in favor of plans like Spitzer's.