Latest CBS News Poll Shows Biden, Dems Out of Sync with Americans on Immigration

An opportunity for Republicans with Independent and Hispanic voters — if they take it

By Andrew R. Arthur on September 14, 2023

The latest CBS news poll reveals that President Biden and Democrats generally are out of sync with the American people on immigration, with massive majorities of even Independents and Hispanics disapproving of the administration’s handling of the issue. That issue and Biden’s feckless handling of the border present an opening for GOP candidates in the 2024 election, but they haven’t seized that opportunity yet.

That poll was conducted by YouGov, which surveyed a massive population of Americans — 2,335 U.S. adults — between September 5 and 8, with a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percent. Not that the margin of error means much when you consider the findings.

Biden Job Approval, Generally. This is not a good poll for Biden, by any measure. It reveals that 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the job he is doing as president (vs. 40 percent who approve); 72 percent of respondents believe things are going somewhat badly (34 percent) or very badly (38 percent) in the United States today, and that 66 percent of those polled describe our current national economy as either “fairly bad” (31 percent) or “very bad” (35 percent).

But wait — it gets worse for the incumbent. Biden gets his best marks when it comes to his handling of “jobs and employment issues” and “the situation with Russia and Ukraine”, and even on those topics the president is way under water with the American people.

Just 42 percent of respondents approved of the president’s handling of each of those issues, compared to 58 percent who disapproved. And remember — those are the bright spots for Biden in this poll.

Even when it comes to the president’s handling of abortion — commonly thought of as a strong card for Democrats — just 40 percent approve of the job that Biden is doing, compared to 60 percent who disapprove.

Biden gets his lowest marks for his handling of inflation, with just 29 percent of respondents approving of the job that he is doing compared to 71 percent who disapprove. Nearly half — 47 percent — blame the president’s actions for increasing the rate of inflation, while just 17 percent believe Biden has taken steps to slow the pace of inflation and 24 percent have no idea what the president has done about inflation.

That’s really bad for a president who’s signature legislative effort is called the “Inflation Reduction Act” (now deemed a year later as a “landmark clean-energy law”), particularly given headlines like “U.S. Incomes Fall for Third Straight Year: Rapid price increases hit household finances in 2022, cutting inflation-adjusted median income to $74,580”.

Plainly $74,580 doesn’t go as far as it used to, and consider that this poll was taken before the Department of Labor announced on September 13 that inflation rose more in August (.6 percent) than in any previous month this year, with increases in gasoline prices leading the way.

Biden’s Handling of Immigration. Were it not for inflation, immigration would have been the biggest black mark on the president’s record in that poll.

As it was, two-thirds of respondents, 66 percent, disapproved of Biden’s handling of immigration, while just a third, 34 percent, approved.

Those numbers are worse than they appear, because as I intimated at the outset, respondents’ opinions on Biden’s handling of immigration broke down along partisan lines.

Two-thirds of the president’s fellow Democrats (again, 66 percent) approved of the job that Biden is doing on immigration, with a not-insubstantial third (34 percent) disapproving. Look at that again, and you’ll see that those results are the mirror opposite of Biden’s approval vs. disapproval on immigration overall.

Of course, that means that a substantial number of respondents who aren’t Democrats disagreed with their fellow Americans on the president’s handling of immigration.

Not surprisingly, 91 percent of Republicans disapproved of Biden’s handling of immigration, with 9 percent approving. Those numbers have held pretty consistently for more than a year across numerous polls, but curiously, 4 percent of Trump voters approved of Biden’s handling of immigration, a figure that seems unusually high (but that’s why polls have margins of error).

In any event, Independents are a lot more in sync with GOP voters when it comes to their opinions of Biden’s handling of immigration than they are with Democrats. Some 74 percent of the unaffiliated disapproved of Biden’s performance when it comes to immigration, while just over a quarter, 26 percent of Independents, approved of the job Biden is doing.

Then, there are Hispanic respondents, and again, they are closer to the Republicans who were polled than they are to the Democrats who were asked that question. Some 71 percent of Hispanic respondents disapproved of the job that President Biden is doing when it comes to immigration, compared to just 29 percent who approved.

Perhaps liberal political analyst Ruy Teixeira was on to something when he wrote on September 7 that “It’s Official! The Democrats Have a Nonwhite Voter Problem”.

The Border. Respondents were also asked whether the administration should be “tougher” or “easier” on immigrants trying to cross the border, and while the results weren’t nearly as lopsided as they were on Biden’s handling of immigration, they still weren’t great for the incumbent.

In response, 55 percent of respondents urged the president to get tougher on migrants attempting to cross into the United States, while just 19 percent advised Biden to go easier on those migrants, with 26 percent saying the incumbent was handling those migrants just right.

Which brings me to the partisan skew, as 28 percent of the Democrats polled wanted the president to be tougher on illegal migrants while just 26 percent wanted him to go easier on them, and 46 percent believed that Biden was “handling things as they should be” with respect to migrants at the border.

Republicans aren’t nearly as conflicted, with 83 percent of GOP respondents calling for a border crackdown compared to 10 percent of them who wanted an easing, and 7 percent who believed that Biden had reached the sweet spot in his handling of the border.

Which brings me to the Independents, 59 percent of whom want Biden to be tougher at the U.S.-Mexico line, 17 percent of whom want Biden to ease off the gas there, and 24 percent of whom opined that he was handling things at the border the way they should be.

Most surprising, perhaps, are the responses on this question from Hispanics who were polled: 48 percent of them want Biden to go tougher on illegal migration, and an even split — 26 percent — either want a border easing or think things are proceeding there as they should.

Liberal immigration and border policies were long used by Democrats to drive a wedge between Hispanic voters and any support for Republican candidates. And yet a much larger proportion of Hispanics than Democrats want Biden to get tougher on illegal migrants, at least in this poll.

As Teixeira noted about many of the Democratic party’s more “progressive” issues:

Democrats may simply have misjudged what is most important to nonwhite voters, reflecting perhaps the increasing domination of their coalition by white college graduate voters, virtually the only demographic among whom the party has been doing steadily better.

That certainly appears to be what’s happening here.

GOP Opportunities. The latest CBS News poll shows President Biden and Democrats generally are out of sync with their fellow Americans — including Independent and Hispanic voters — on immigration and the border. But the GOP, which controls the House, hasn’t forced the president to do much differently, and thus are allowing a key opportunity to go to waste. Fortunately, there’s still time for those at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to make a change.