In a poll conducted between August 28 and 30 by Morning Consult and Politico of 1,997 registered voters, 55 percent of respondents disapproved of President Biden’s handling of immigration (41 percent “strongly”), and almost half (47 percent) saw “illegal immigration” as a “critical threat to the vital interests of the United States in the next 10 years”. That poll is a wake-up call that should prompt a White House course correction on immigration enforcement.
To drill down on respondents’ impressions of Biden, 48 percent of those polled approved of the job he is doing as president generally, as opposed to 50 percent who disapproved (37 percent “strongly”). Even that is deceiving, because Biden is buoyed by still-strong support from his fellow Democrats (84 percent of whom approved of Biden’s performance, again almost half — 49 percent — “strongly” so).
Ninety percent of Republicans disapproved of Biden’s performance (73 percent “strongly”), and while some partisan disagreement is to be expected, 90 percent disapproval is still a poor showing.
More surprising, however, is the disapproval of Independents: 54 percent of them disapproved of Biden’s performance — 35 percent “strongly” — while just 39 percent were pleased with how Biden is carrying out his duties (an anemic 13 percent “strongly” so).
You need to turn out your base to win elections, but you cannot win with the support of just your fellow partisans. Independents are crucial “swing-voters”, especially in the mid-terms.
It appears that immigration is among the subjects that are pulling the president’s approval ratings down: 55 percent of respondents disapproved of his handling of immigration (41 percent “strongly”), compared to just 36 percent who approved (most — 22 percent — only “somewhat”).
Apparently, Democratic voters like the chaotic border and tepid (at best) interior enforcement that the president has delivered, because 68 percent of them approved of Biden’s handling of immigration (although even 39 percent of them only “somewhat” approved).
By contrast, 59 percent of those “swing-vote” Independents disapproved of Biden’s handling of immigration, 40 percent of whom “strongly” disapproved.
Just 8 percent of GOP voters approved of Biden’s handling of immigration, compared to 89 percent who disapproved (78 percent “strongly”). It is apparent that support for immigration enforcement is increasingly becoming a hallmark of the Republican brand.
The disapproval of those voters who are not Democrats on the issue of immigration is likely going to be a headache for Biden and his fellow partisans in elections going forward, because of the significant concerns that the electorate has about illegal immigration.
As noted at the outset, 47 percent of respondents to the Morning Consult/Politico poll asserted that illegal immigration is “a critical threat to the vital interests of the United States in the next 10 years”.
That’s on top of the 31 percent of respondents who deemed illegal immigration “an important but not critical threat” to those interests, meaning that more than three-out-four voters believe that illegal immigration poses a threat to the vital interests of the United States over the next 10 years.
That is a greater percentage of respondents than those deemed “climate change” a critical threat to U.S. interests in the next decade (46 percent) or who believed that climate change is an important but not critical threat (25 percent).
The same goes for “white nationalism” (38 percent critical threat/25 percent important threat), “income inequality” (29 percent critical threat, but 38 percent important threat), and “racial inequality” (38 percent critical threat/31 percent important threat).
It is difficult to turn on the television, radio, or internet and not hear about the “existential” threat posed by climate change, or the societal dangers of “white nationalism” and economic and racial inequality (not to minimize any of them). How often do you hear about illegal immigration in those terms, though? Apparently, Americans think of it that way, regardless of what the media say.
The internal numbers paint an even more interesting picture.
Women, by a 50 percent to 44 percent margin for men, are more likely to deem illegal immigration a critical threat. That is true regardless of political affiliation: Democrats (28 percent of female respondents, 24 percent of males), Independents (42 percent of females, 38 percent of males), and Republicans (an overwhelming 79 percent of females compared to 69 percent of males).
If “soccer moms”, “rage moms”, or “zoom moms” are the political force that they have been touted to be, Democrats who are soft on illegal immigration may be in for quite the reckoning come November 2022.
Speaking of the mid-term elections, 51 percent of those who voted in 2014 termed illegal immigration to be a critical threat, and 31 percent more called it an important threat (just 16 percent said that it was not an important threat).
Even among those who voted for a Democrat in the 2018 mid-terms, 68 percent said that illegal immigration was a threat to the vital interests of the United States in the next 10 years (26 percent critical, 42 percent important).
If you pulled the lever for a GOP candidate in that election, you probably really perceive illegal immigration as a threat: 72 percent of those voters who were polled deemed it a critical threat, and an additional 20 percent said it was an important one, 92 percent total.
Even those identified as liberals in the poll were more likely to say that illegal immigration is an important threat to the vital interests of the country in the next 10 years than to say that it isn’t, by a 39 percent to 36 percent margin. That doesn’t even count the 22 percent of liberals who deemed it a “critical threat”, meaning than 61 percent of liberals considered illegal immigration some kind of threat.
There are two reasons all of this spells trouble for Democrats heading into 2022.
First, not only doesn’t the president have a plan for dealing with illegal immigration, but he also doesn’t even think that illegal immigration is a problem to begin with. Sure, he has immigration policies, but if anything they simply encourage illegal immigration.
He does not want to stop the surge of illegal migrants by detaining them or returning them to Mexico to await their court hearings (he actually wants to encourage more illegal entries by releasing even more illegal migrants), and he has all but stopped immigration enforcement in the interior. In the words of the Washington Post: “ICE under President Biden is an agency on probation”, as if immigration-enforcement officers there have committed some sort of crime.
In fact, the president is asking Congress for less money next year to detain illegal aliens. If he shares his constituents’ views on the threat that illegal immigration poses to the vital interests of the United States, he has a funny way of showing it.
Second, elections, and especially mid-term elections, are won by doing two things: Getting your voters to vote and convincing your opponent’s voters not to vote. It sounds banal, but it’s always true.
There is no nationwide candidate at the top of the ticket in the mid-terms, so you drive your voters to the polls in those elections by focusing them on issues where you poll well and get the opponent’s voters to stay home by convincing them that the issues that poll well for your opponent aren’t really that important, or that your views and his or hers aren’t that different.
Biden has set down his marker on his position that illegal immigration is unimportant, and if anything he is trailing behind his fellow partisans on that point. Can you name one pro-immigration enforcement Democrat who does not occupy a tenuous congressional seat in south Texas? Good luck, but it’s a rhetorical question anyway.
If you care about your future, or your kid’s future, and you believe — like 78 percent of your fellow voters — that illegal immigration is a threat to the vital interests of the United States between now and 2031, you are going to vote in your own interests. And right now, those interests are not being protected — in any way — by the president or his party.
The president still has time to change course, for his good and the good of the Party of Jackson. He can take real steps to control the border and release ICE officers from the probation they’re in for no greater crime than having the favor of his predecessor. If not, he has been around Washington long enough to understand the classic truism of electoral politics: “If you don’t represent your constituents, soon you won’t represent your constituents.”