Apr 28, 2024 - Politics & Policy
Axios Vibes

Where Democrats are embracing Trump's border crisis narrative

Data: The Harris Poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

More than half of Democrats believe there's a real border crisis and surprising percentages expressed support for some of former President Trump's immigration plans, according to a new Axios Vibes survey by The Harris Poll.

Why it matters: The GOP narrative of chaos at the border has hit home with Democratic voters, spelling danger for President Biden.

  • 53% of Democrats said there is a real crisis at the border, rather than it being a politically-driven media narrative.
  • 59% said "illegal" immigration was a problem.

Zoom in: Biden has embraced a tougher image on the border, as Democrats have expressed growing concern about a surge in illegal migrant crossings.

  • Senate Democrats made significant compromises on an ultimately-failed border deal.
  • A handful of centrist House Democrats have recently called for a return to Trump's "Remain in Mexico" policy and pandemic-era expulsion of migrants at the border.

By the numbers: 30% of Democrats overall said they would at least somewhat support "ending automatic citizenship for children born in the U.S," according to the new polling.

  • Trump has threatened to try to end birthright citizenship — which has long been considered protected by the 14th Amendment — for the children of undocumented immigrants.
  • A whopping 42% of Democrats said they would support mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, another Trump plan.

Between the lines: Of Democrats who said illegal immigration was a problem, 40% said they think so because it "undermines the rule of law" and is unfair to people who arrive legally.

  • A quarter of them cited migrants bringing drugs and committing crimes, a narrative repeatedly pushed by Republicans — despite little to no evidence.

The other side: While the polling highlights a real shift in Democrats' views on immigration, there is overwhelming support for Dreamers and more legal immigration pathways for people — even among Republicans.

  • Half of Republicans said they were at least somewhat supportive of expanding legal pathways, which has been a key part of Biden's approach to the border.
  • 32% of Republicans said they think people who enter the U.S. illegally should be allowed to stay as long as they go through the proper channels. Most people who illegally cross the border go through the asylum-seeking process.

The bottom line: The survey results repeatedly point to a chasm between how people view immigrants who cross the border illegally versus those who use legal pathways.

Methodology: The findings in this Axios Vibes survey by The Harris Poll are based on a nationally representative sample of 6,251 U.S. adults conducted online, March 29-31; April 5-7; and April 12-14, 2024.

  • The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the data for this population is accurate to within +/- 1.5 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.
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