‘Immigration’ Trails Only the Economy and Crime as Biggest Issue in Reuters/Ipsos Poll

And it's the second top issue Americans want Joe Biden to prioritize. Good luck, because few Democrats care

By Andrew R. Arthur on June 15, 2023

News outlet Reuters and research shop Ipsos are out with their latest poll, and it reveals that Americans (1) are really worried about immigration and (2) want Joe Biden to do something about it. Good luck, because as that poll reveals, Democrats don’t share their fellow citizens’ concerns.

That poll was conducted between May 5 and 7, and Reuters/Ipsos surveyed 1,022 U.S. adults, including 302 Democrats, 280 Republicans, and 342 Independents. The overall margin of error is plus/minus 3.2 percentage points.

Ipsos 6-23

Most Important Problem Facing America. Respondents were asked what they thought the most important problem facing America today is, from a list of 13 potential topics.

The “economy, unemployment, and jobs” was the leading choice, garnering 24 percent of responses, followed by “crime or corruption”, which 14 percent of those polled picked.

Immigration ran a close third, with 9 percent of those polled — including 8 percent of Independents, 4 percent of Democrats, and 18 percent of Republicans — identifying it as the most important problem for the country.

Other “hot button” issues did not elicit the same levels of concern: “inequality and discrimination” and “environment and climate”, at 6 percent each; “healthcare system”, 5 percent; and “abortion issues”, 3 percent.

Among Republicans, immigration is the second-leading concern (after the economy), and as with the tally as a whole, the third biggest issue for Independents. For Democrats, however, it came in sixth, after the economy (20 percent), “inequality and discrimination” (13 percent), crime (12 percent), and healthcare and abortion (each at 6 percent).

The White House’s Top Priorities. Respondents were also asked to pick two issues (from a list of 10) that they want Joe Biden to prioritize.

Not surprisingly, more than half — 51 percent — want the president to focus on the economy. Somewhat more surprising (even for me) is the fact that immigration came in a solid second, with 20 percent choosing it among the top two issues that they want on the White House’s radar, beating out “employment and jobs”, the environment, and “corruption”, each of which drew 13 percent.

In a hopeful sign, 18 percent of respondents want the president to prioritize “unifying the country”, placing it third.

Immigration is not, however, among the top issues Democrats want Biden to highlight — just 11 percent put it among their top two choices, after the economy (47 percent), unifying the country (24 percent), the environment (21 percent), racial inequality (19 percent), employment and jobs (14 percent), and corruption (12 percent).

Support for “Key Political Issues”. “Immigration” as an issue can mean different things to different people, with some wanting more of it, some wanting less, and some just wanting it to be controlled.

Two other questions in that poll, however, offer some insight into what the respondents mean when they say that immigration is a key issue that they want the president to prioritize.

First, the pollsters asked whether respondents support or oppose “The federal government sending active-duty soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border to support border patrol agents by monitoring for illegal crossings and supporting administrative work”.

The response was overwhelmingly in favor of that proposal, with 66 percent favoring the sending of troops to the border and just 31 percent opposed. The only other issue that drew more support was for capping the price of insulin at $35, regardless of health insurance (82 percent in favor, and 15 percent opposed).

Compare that with another immigration-related question, testing respondents support or opposition to “Raising the number of immigrants allowed into the U.S. each year”. Some 54 percent of those polled oppose increasing the number of immigrants let into the country annually, compared to 43 percent who support the idea.

Given those responses, it’s not a big logical leap to conclude that those major segments of the population concerned about immigration and who want the White House to do something about it desire to have the border secured and immigration brought under control.

The president’s abject failure to do either of those two things likely explains why just 26 percent of respondents approve of Biden’s handling of immigration — his second lowest approval rating across 11 topic areas, just behind “corruption” (25 percent).

Incredibly, Biden gets higher approval ratings for his performance in areas I don’t normally think of as his strengths, like unifying the country (31 percent) and dealing with Congress (30 percent), than he does on his handling of immigration.

Why Won’t Biden Act? Which raises the question — if Americans are so concerned about immigration and want the White House to do something about it, why doesn’t Biden do more to secure the border and control the rate at which aliens are entering the country?

Which brings me back to Democrats’ lack of interest in the subject. Independents and Republicans (in particular) view the current unchecked rate of immigrants to the United States as a problem, but while I wouldn’t say that the president’s fellow partisans couldn’t care less about the problem, it’s safe to say that they couldn’t care much less.

Absent a major terrorist attack or a total fiscal meltdown in Democratic-led cities struggling to deal with their own migrant influxes, it’s unlikely the president will change course on the rate at which he’s releasing border migrants into the country or in dealing with immigration generally in any productive manner. Biden’s the head of the Democratic party, and Democrats don’t view immigration as a problem. Yet.