Biden Immigration Approval Falls Further in Latest Poll

And surprising support for Donald Trump among Hispanic voters

By Andrew R. Arthur on March 2, 2022

Harris, the polling outfit, and the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University just issued the results of a poll conducted between February 23 and 24 of 2,026 registered voters. The poll is bad for President Biden (particularly with respect to his handling of immigration) and shows surprising support for Donald Trump among Hispanic voters.

Biden Hits New Lows Generally. The poll reveals that Biden’s support has dipped to its lowest level in his presidency. His approval stands at just 38 percent (strong approval was a measly 17 percent), while 55 percent disapproved of the president’s performance (39 percent “strongly” disapproving). By contrast, as recently as July Biden enjoyed 52 percent approval (vs. 43 percent disapproval).

Biden Gets His Lowest Marks on Immigration. Biden’s immigration marks are even worse. Just 32 percent approve of Biden’s handling of immigration — his lowest showing across nine subject areas. The president’s handling of the economy, crime, and foreign affairs drew 33 percent approval, but still beat immigration.

Biden’s immigration scores have never been that great (he peaked at 56 percent approval last February, when he also got his lowest rating on immigration), but he moved into negative territory in July (at 42 percent). Still, he has slipped eight points since September (40 percent), the month of the “Del Rio” debacle.

Consider this point: Just after the disastrous pull-out of U.S. forces from Kabul at the end of August, Biden still pulled 35 percent approval for his handling of the situation in Afghanistan in September polling. When the president’s handling of the Afghanistan disaster in real time is beating his current handling of immigration, it is time for a rethink in White House immigration policies.

Immigration Is High on Voters’ List of Priorities. This is especially true since that poll shows that immigration is high up on voters’ list of priorities. When allowed to choose three priorities (from a list of 25 choices, plus one “other”), 25 percent of respondents chose “immigration” in their top three. That put the topic in third place, narrowly edged out by Covid-19 (at 26 percent) and the economy and jobs (33 percent).

Immigration also came in third among voters’ greatest concerns, at 12 percent, behind inflation (31 percent) and “foreign policies issues like Ukraine” (17 percent).

This is reflective of the fact that voters who care about immigration really care about immigration. If you are reading this post, that almost definitely includes you, but this poll shows that you are hardly alone — it is also the top concern for nearly one in eight voters even while war wages in Europe and the dollar is losing value daily.

Surprising Hispanic Support for Donald Trump. In a different vein, the poll also asked whether Donald Trump was a better president than Biden, and the results were something else.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said that the 45th president was better than his successor, including (remarkably) 17 percent of Democrats. Independents chose Trump by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin, whites by 61 percent to 39 percent, and those living in the suburbs also preferred Trump, 55 percent to 45 percent.

Then, there were Hispanic voters. They preferred Biden overall, but the margins were slimmer than you might think: 54 percent chose Biden, 46 percent liked Trump better.

By comparison, Biden was viewed as a better president than Trump by a three-to-one margin among Black voters, 75 percent to 25 percent, and among the youngest voters (aged 18 to 34), 59 percent for Biden to 41 percent for Trump.

This does not mean that there has been a massive GOP shift among Hispanics. When voters in general were asked “If the congressional election were held today would you be more likely to vote for a Democrat or a Republican for Congress?”, the Party of Lincoln eked out an overall two-point edge, 51 percent for the Republican candidate to 49 percent for the Democrat.

Among Hispanics, however, 71 percent prefer a Democrat, while just 29 percent would vote for a Republican. That is consistent with Mitt Romney’s performance among Hispanics in the 2012 presidential election, when he lost to Barack Obama among this demographic, 27 percent to 71 percent.

Thus, any bump in support that the GOP is expecting from Hispanic voters may not develop unless Trump is at the top of the ballot or pulling hard for specific candidates in selected districts.

Trump would win a head-to-head matchup with Biden if the 2024 presidential election were held today, 48 percent to 42 percent. That question is not broken down by demographic, but I sense that the results would be similarly enlightening when it comes to Hispanic voters.

Conclusions. All in all, immigration is not just a liability for Joe Biden — it is his biggest liability, particularly among the relatively significant proportion of the electorate for whom immigration is a major issue. And his rhetoric notwithstanding, Donald Trump enjoys some surprising support among Hispanic voters.