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Poll: U.S. public opposes reparations and decriminalizing illegal entry

Julian Castro and Cory Booker at democratic debate
Candidates Julián Castro and Sen. Cory Booker at the first Democratic debate. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A significant majority of Americans believe that providing reparations for the descendants of slaves and decriminalizing illegal border crossings are "bad ideas," according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll of 1,346 adults.

Why it matters: Both issues have been gaining traction in progressive circles, with reparations receiving its first congressional hearing in years last month. They've also been brought to the forefront of the Democratic presidential primary, with a number of candidates stating that they support decriminalizing border crossings at last month's debate.

The big picture: Several other high-profile progressive policies appear to be very popular within the general electorate, including background checks for private gun sales, a public option for Medicare, the Green New Deal, and a wealth tax. Others, such as the universal basic income proposal championed by Andrew Yang and national health insurance for undocumented immigrants, were overwhelmingly rated as "bad ideas."

Issue approval ratings, according to the poll:

  • Background checks: 89%
  • Medicare for all that want it: 70%
  • Legalizing marijuana nationally: 63%
  • Green New Deal: 63%
  • Wealth tax on incomes above $1 million: 62%
  • Eliminating electoral college: 42%
  • National insurance for undocumented immigrants: 33%
  • Reparations: 27%
  • Universal basic income of $1,000 a month: 26%

Methodology: This survey of 1,346 adults was conducted July 15th through July 17th, 2019 by The Marist Poll sponsored in partnership with NPR and PBS NewsHour. Results are statistically significant within ±3.5 percentage points. Read the poll's full methodology here.

Go deeper: 4 in 10 Americans say they would prefer living in a socialist country