Reuters/Ipsos Poll Shows Partisan Divide on Immigration

Few Democrats care, which may be why Biden isn’t addressing the disaster at the border while congressional Democrats are pushing a massive and costly amnesty

By Andrew R. Arthur on September 20, 2021

A Reuters/Ipsos poll last week revealed a significant partisan divide on the issue of immigration between Democrats on the one hand and Independents and Republicans on the other. It may explain why the president is doing nothing to halt the disaster at the Southwest border.

Right Track/Wrong Track. Respondents were in a pessimistic mood, to say the least. Sixty-one percent stated that the country was on the wrong track, while just 24 percent thought it was on the right track. Fifteen percent didn’t know, but, respectfully, if you don’t know if the country is headed in the right direction, you are probably not sanguine about the future of the republic.

Most Important Problem Facing the United States. “Immigration” came in third out of 13 when it came to the most important problem facing the United States today, tied at 9 percent with the “healthcare system”. It beat out “environment and the climate” (7 percent), “inequality and discrimination” (6 percent), “crime or corruption” (6 percent), and even “education” (3 percent).

Not surprisingly, given Covid and its related effects on business, the “economy, unemployment, and jobs” (17 percent) and “public health, disease, and illness” (16 percent) led the pack.

The partisan breakdown on immigration, however, was telling. Seventeen percent of Republicans and 11 percent of Independents said that immigration was the most important issue facing the country. By contrast, just 2 percent of Democrats agreed. Two percent.

Among Democrats, the environment drew the second largest number of respondents, tied with the economy at 13 percent. As the most important issue for this cohort, public health took the prize, at 21 percent.

For Republicans, immigration trailed just the economy when it came to most important issues. The economy and public health were ranked one and two for Independents, with immigration coming in third.

In other words, immigration is a much bigger concern for GOP and Independent voters than it is for Democrats. Even “don’t know” — the 14th option — was a bigger concern for those in the Party of Jackson than immigration.

President Biden’s Handling of Immigration. Relatedly, the president received poor marks on immigration. Just 38 percent of respondents approved of Biden’s handling of the issue, his seventh worst showing out of 10 issues total. Only on such issues as taxation (also 38 percent approval), “international trade” (35 percent), and corruption (33 percent) did the president fare worse.

Again, those marks reflect a partisan divide. Biden drew approval for his handling of immigration from 65 percent of Democrats, 38 percent of Independents, and just 10 percent of Republicans. That was Biden’s lowest mark for GOP voters, tied with international trade.

By contrast, one in five Republicans approved of Biden’s handling of the environment, and 19 percent of Covid, so it is not like GOP respondents were simply hating on the president.

What Should the President’s Priorities Be? Turning to respondents’ impressions of what the president’s priorities should be (respondents could pick two), immigration came in fourth at 20 percent, tied with “unifying the country”. Employment and jobs (21 percent), the U.S. economy (32 percent), and Covid (38 percent) took the top spots.

Once more, there was a partisan divide. Just 8 percent of Democrats thought that immigration should be among Biden’s top-two priorities, while 20 percent of Independents and 36 percent of Republicans thought immigration should be where the president is focusing his attention.

Key Takeaway: Democrats Don’t Care About Immigration, and Leadership Is Following Their Lead at the Border and on Amnesty. This poll sheds some light on a question that I get a lot: Why isn’t President Biden doing more to control illegal immigration at the Southwest border?

I shy away from reading too much into one survey, but the answer appears to be that Biden is a Democrat and the House and Senate are controlled by Democrats, and they are all doing what is important for the 29 percent of Americans who identify as Democrats. Immigration isn’t important to them, and so the president does little or nothing to stop the freefall at the border.

It also explains why congressional Democrats are pushing a massive and expensive amnesty through reconciliation.

Recent polling from Rasmussen reveals that 54 percent of respondents believe that the United States should admit no more than 750,000 new immigrants annually (currently about one million are admitted through legal channels, and an additional 17 percent are fine with that), while 40 percent say that we should welcome fewer than a half million annually.

Just 41 percent of those surveyed in the Rasmussen poll are in favor of an amnesty for all illegal aliens (Rasmussen uses an estimated population of 12 million here illegally, and the Democratic plan would legalize about eight million), while 53 percent of respondents were opposed (36 percent strongly so).

So, why were congressional Democrats plowing ahead with amnesty in budget reconciliation? The same reason the president isn’t doing anything about the unfolding chaos at the border, probably: Their Democratic base doesn’t care about immigration.

Again, the Reuters/Ipsos results are just one poll, and when it comes to amnesty and the border there are a lot of moving parts and several different considerations.

It appears, however, that Democratic voters don’t think that immigration is a big deal, and so the president and congressional Democrats are just following their lead by trying to put eight million illegal aliens on a path to citizenship, while doing nothing to address the disaster unfolding at the Southwest border.