Immigration Overtakes Inflation As Biden’s Worst Issue Among Voters in Latest Poll

A winning issue for congressional Republicans — but they must act, which they haven’t done thus far

By Andrew R. Arthur on November 19, 2023

The latest poll from Yahoo! News and YouGov is out, and it is absolutely brutal for President Biden. He received negative marks across the board, but in a switch from earlier polling, “immigration” has now overtaken “inflation” as the incumbent’s worst issue among registered voters. This provides an opening for a GOP seeking big wins in the 2024 elections, but if the party wants to cash in on the electorate’s displeasure with the president’s immigration and border policies, congressional Republicans must act — which they’ve failed to do thus far.

That poll was conducted between November 9 and 13, and surveyed 1,584 American adults, including, most critically, 1,062 registered voters. The margin of error was +/- 2.8 percent.

Biden Job Approval Generally. The bad news for the White House starts right from the jump, with just 38 percent of those polled approving of the president’s handling of his job (a mere 13 percent “strongly” approving) compared to 56 percent disapproving (42 percent “strongly”).

There is, of course, a partisan split on the question, with 78 percent of Democrats approving of the job that Biden is doing compared to just 6 percent of Republicans. Conversely, 19 percent of Democrats disapprove of Biden’s handling of the position, with 93 percent of Republicans concurring with that take.

That leaves Independents, and they are likely not as “middle of the road” on the issue as the president would like. Just 29 percent of the politically unaligned approve of Biden’s handling of his job, while 65 percent disapprove (46 percent “strongly”).

Biden does both better and worse among registered voters, with 40 percent of those ready to head to the polls approving of the job he is doing and 58 percent disapproving (again, 46 percent “strongly” disapproving).

Biden’s Handling of Inflation. At least part of the electorate’s grumblings over Biden’s job performance likely has something to do with the ongoing spike in inflation. Among American adults as a whole, it’s where he received his lowest ratings, as 61 percent of respondents disapproved of Biden’s handling of price jumps (47 percent “strongly” so), compared to just 30 percent who approve (11 percent “strongly”).

The picture for the White House is a little brighter, however, among registered voters, but not by much. Some 62 percent of those prepared to cast a ballot disapprove of the job that Biden is doing to bring costs down (50 percent “strongly”), but on the flip side, 33 percent of this cohort approve of what Biden is doing to tackle inflation (14 percent “strongly”).

Thus, Biden is only 29 points in the red on inflation amongst those who will decide whether he stays at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for another four years or instead he will be headed back to Wilmington (and Rehoboth) come January 20, 2025.

Biden’s Handling of Immigration. Which brings me to immigration.

In the Yahoo! News/YouGov poll, 59 percent of respondents overall disapproved of Biden’s handling of immigration (43 percent “strongly”) compared to 31 percent of those polled who approved of the job the president is doing in addressing the subject (a meager 8 percent “strongly” so).

That’s a 28-point difference for the incumbent on the downside, but the story doesn’t end there.

Biden’s doing one point better on the plus side of the ledger among those who are actually registered to vote, with 32 percent of respondents in that cohort approving of Biden’s handling of immigration (with again, however, just 8 percent “strongly” approving).

The problem for the president, however, is that he is three points further in the red with the registered voters polled than with U.S. adults as a whole, with 62 percent of the former disapproving of Biden’s handling of immigration (48 percent “strongly”). That creates a 30-point deficit for the president when it comes to immigration, just slightly edging out inflation as Biden’s worst issue among registered voters.

There are other interesting takeaways in the internals, however. Somewhat remarkably, a solid majority, 56 percent, of Hispanic Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of immigration (but just 31 percent “strongly” so), compared to well less than a third, 30 percent, of respondents in this demographic who approve (though just 7 percent “strongly” approving).

If Biden is tailoring his immigration policies to cater to Hispanic voters, he may want to wave his DHS caterers off and have a conversation with his White House immigration-policy tailors.

That’s not likely to happen, however, because Biden’s fellow partisans like what he’s has done with respect to immigration. Some 62 percent of Democrats approve of his handling of the issue, compared to 28 percent of those in the Party of Jackson who disapprove of how Biden’s handling immigration.

Independents feel much, much differently. Two-thirds of those without a political home, 66 percent, disapprove of Biden’s handling of immigration, but more importantly, just over half of Independents (51 percent) “strongly” disapprove of what Biden is doing when it comes to the subject.

To round things off, 90 percent of GOP respondents disapprove of Biden’s handling of immigration (79 percent “strongly”), while — again, somewhat interestingly — 7 percent of the loyal opposition approves of what the president is doing on this issue, though only 1 percent of them “strongly” approve.

A Winning Issue for Congressional Republicans — If They Seize It. Plainly, immigration — more specifically, the national-security and humanitarian disaster at the Southwest border — is a winning issue for a Republican party seeking to take back the White House, increase its splinter-thin majority in the House, and seize control of the Senate. Will they take it?

On November 15, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) took to the House floor to excoriate his own leadership over its failure to include border legislation in the chamber’s recently passed continuing resolution, as well as to chide his fellow Republicans who refused to move a separate resolution to impeach Biden’s DHS Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas.

While it’s questionable whether removing Mayorkas would curb the administration’s attempts to facilitate the illegal entries of hundreds of thousands of migrants per month (his replacement would almost definitely be like-minded or worse), such action would force a national media that pays only sporadic attention to what’s occurring at the U.S.-Mexico line to cover the proceedings.

The ongoing funding discussions would also give the GOP leverage to shut down the administration’s illegal parole programs, and to force the White House to detain more (if not all) those who are entering illegally.

As a federal judge found in March, Biden’s (illegal) border-release policies are the primary driver of the ongoing migrant surge. Congress — with its “power of the purse” — can expand detention funding while starving the administration of the cash that is paying for its (costly) release protocols.

Want border barriers? Congress can force DHS to erect them — the White House is already sitting on the money. Want expanded detention? Congress can fund it and force DHS to fill the beds. The surge won’t end until foreign nationals are told that they can’t simply enter illegally and be released to live and work here indefinitely.

By controlling the flow of money to DHS and the White House, Congress can also mandate that Mayorkas lift the immigration enforcement restrictions he placed on ICE in September 2021.

A coalition of states sued both to force the administration to close the border by reimplementing the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols — “MPP”, better known as “Remain in Mexico” (Texas v. Biden) and to detain dangerous criminals who otherwise are avoiding removal under Mayorkas’s ICE restrictions (Texas v. U.S.).

In both cases, the justices sent the states home empty-handed, essentially telling them it’s Congress’s job — not the courts’ — to give them the relief they’re seeking. To date, however, Congress hasn’t taken the Court’s bait.

As this poll reveals, voters really don’t like how Biden’s handling immigration. That offers congressional Republicans a choice — they can carp about what’s happening at the border and vow to fix things when given the chance, or they can use their funding powers to stop the disaster. The latter is the better option, both for the GOP’s electoral prospects and the country.