Poll: Majority back path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants

(CNN) -- A new national poll indicates a majority of American voters say they support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

According to the Politico/George Washington University Battleground survey released Monday, 62% of registered voters say they back an immigration reform proposal that would allow illegal or undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship over a period of several years, with 35% opposed.

The new poll is in line with an ABC News/Washington Post survey conducted right after the November election that indicated Americans supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants by a 57%-39% margin.

And a CNN/ORC International poll conducted in late September indicated 56% of registered voters said the main focus of U.S. policy on illegal immigration should be a plan to allow them to become legal residents, with less than four in ten saying the main emphasis should be deporting illegal immigrants and stopping more from coming to the U.S. That was a switch from last year, when only a minority said the main focus should be to allow illegal immigrants to become legal residents.

The new survey's release comes as reports suggest President Barack Obama may put his attention on pushing immigration reform next month, after the hopeful resolution of negotiations to prevent the country from falling off the fiscal cliff. Any deal on immigration could possibly include a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

According to the Politico/George Washington University poll, 74% of Democrats and 61% of independents back a plan that would give undocumented immigrants eventual citizenship, with 49% of Republicans in favor and 45% opposed.

The survey also indicates that more than three quarters of voters support a push to allow the children of undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. permanently if they complete college or serve in the armed forces. The legislative proposal, known as the DREAM Act, has not been passed by Congress, but 12 states have similar laws.

Although Obama overwhelming won the Latino vote in the presidential election, he was criticized during the campaign for not forcefully pushing immigration reform during his first term in the White House. By a 48%-45% margin, voters disapprove of the job he's doing handling the immigration issue.

Only 2% of those questioned in the survey say illegal immigration is their most important issue, far behind government spending, jobs and the economy.

The Politico/George Washington University Battleground poll was conducted Dec. 2-6, with 1,000 registered voters questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report