WASHINTON, DC - OCTOBER 2:  U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Awards Gala at the Washington Convention Center October 2, 2014 in Washington, DC. More than 2 million illegal immigrants have been deported during the Obama administration, a rate higher than under any previous president and intensifiying anger among some Hispanics. So to discourage children in Central America from making the dangerous trek across Mexico by themselves, Obama approved a plan this week to allow several thousand of these children to apply for refugee status so as to join relatives already living in the United States.  (Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)
White House: Obama will veto Keystone bill
01:07 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

A majority of Americans favor the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline – a result that could give Republicans a boost as they move toward a showdown with President Barack Obama over the project – a CNN/ORC poll has found.

The 1,179-mile Canada-to-Texas pipeline is backed by 57% of the 1,011 Americans surveyed on Dec. 18-21. Just 28% oppose it, while 15% say they are unsure.

Keystone debate moves ahead

The controversial project has become the subject of a battle between liberal environmentalists who argue it would contribute to global warming and conservatives who say it would create jobs and help the United States break away from Middle Eastern oil.

President Barack Obama has threatened to veto a measure that the Senate is set to vote on as soon as next week, which would end the State Department’s six-year-old review of the project and authorize its construction immediately. Obama has said he objects to the decision-making process being removed from the executive branch.

The poll found that support for the pipeline is strongest in the South, where it’s backed by 65% of those polled, and in the Midwest, where it has 63% support.

Read the entire CNN/ORC poll

The pipeline also stokes a divide along party lines, with 80% of Republicans backing it compared to just 39% of Democrats, and different age groups, with support strongest at 67% among those 65 and older and weakest at 47% among those between 18 and 34.

CNN surveyed Americans on several other hot policy issues. Here are some of the key findings:

  • IMMIGRATION: Slightly more people would like to see the main focus of U.S. immigration policy be on establishing legal status for immigrants, at 50%, than on border security, at 46%. Those results are largely divided along party lines, which isn’t surprising, since President Barack Obama has taken executive action to forestall some deportations and the Republican-led Congress has accused him of taking a lax approach to border security.
  • FREE TRADE: At 59%, more Americans say they see foreign trade as an opportunity for the United States than the 34% who see it as a threat to the United States. That debate could gain steam in the coming years as Obama’s administration negotiates massive deals with Pacific Rim countries and the European Union.
  • SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Fifty-seven percent of Americans now say gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to get married, while just 41% disagree. At 60%, even more people say marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized as valid. That number has ticked upward in CNN/ORC polls from 44% in 2008.
  • GLOBAL WARMING: A majority of those polled, at 57%, say global warming will not pose a serious threat to their way of life, while just 43% expect global warming to threaten them. Meanwhile, only 50% of Americans believe global warming is caused by man-made emissions, while 23% say it’s caused by natural changes and 26% say it isn’t a proven fact.
  • OBAMACARE: Forty-six percent of Americans would still like to see Obama’s signature health care law repealed and replaced – though even more favor keeping it in place or expanding government’s role in health care. Twenty-one percent say they’d like to leave the bill as it is, while 30% say they prefer increasing government involvement.
  • ISIS: At 67%, more than two-thirds of Americans say Obama should ask Congress for authority to attack ISIS, while just 31% disagree. An even higher number, 82%, believe Congress should give Obama that authority.
  • WATERBOARDING: Sixty-six percent of those polled say the United States should use waterboarding as it interrogates suspected terrorists, while 34% say it should not. At 71%, more men favor the tactic than women, who were at 60%. And while 70% of those under 50 years of age favor the tactic, just 60% of those over 50 support its use.