Americans overwhelmingly believe that the U.S. has a serious problem with controlling its southern border as a record flow of illegal immigration leaves many scratching their heads over whether immigration laws are enforced at all. With midterm elections just around the corner, which party has the edge on this key issue? According to October’s I&I/TIPP Poll, the answer is Republicans.
For October’s public opinion survey, I&I/TIPP asked voters a simple question: “Which party would do a better job of securing the border?”
More Americans picked the Republican Party (43%) over the Democratic Party (34%), the online poll of 1,376 adults taken from Oct. 5-7 showed. A hefty 23%, however, claimed they were “unsure.” The poll has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.
But as in other recent I&I/TIPP Polls, voters showed a sharp partisan split on the issue. It is, after all, one of the hot-button issues in congressional election campaigns across the country.
Among Democrats, 74% said their own donkey party would do the best job, while just 3% of Republicans and 16% of independents agreed.
Not surprisingly, the answers flip-flopped for Republicans, who by an overwhelming 91% said their own party is the best choice for securing the border, compared to 9% of Democrats and 38% of independents.
Note that independents give Republicans the nod by more than 2-to-1.
Even so, the wide variation among the “unsure” responses suggest border security will be a key election battleground issue for both parties. A look at the data shows why: Among Democrats, a surprisingly high 17% say they’re “unsure” who would do a better job; for independents it’s a whopping 46%. The comparable “unsure” response for Republicans is just 6%.
The issue is pretty much summed up by the preferences of those who self-describe as “conservative” (70% Republican vs. 23% Democrat), “moderate” (36% Republican vs. 31% Democrat) and “liberal” (15% Republican vs. 62% Democrat).
Another sharp split emerges by race and ethnicity.
White voters overwhelmingly believe the GOP (50% support) will do a better job on border security than Democrats (28% support). And, in a result that might seem counterintuitive, Hispanic voters narrowly preferred Republicans (38%) to Democrats (36%) when it came to border security.
But black Americans overwhelmingly approved of Democratic border policies (58%) compared to Republican policies (20%).
We also asked voters about another contentious point, namely: “Do you support or oppose building a wall along the border with Mexico?”
By 57% to 33%, Americans overwhelmingly support building a wall.
Among Republican voters, support is very strong, with 85% favoring and just 11% opposing. Independents support it: 47% to 37%.
Even Democrats show surprisingly strong support for building a wall: While 48% oppose it, 45% support it.
Recent developments show why support for re-establishing control over the porous southern border is so strong.
One element that has largely gone unexplored in the media is the role of criminal drug and human trafficking cartels in moving potential illegal entrants across the border.
“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reports that the Mexican cartels’ income from smuggling illegal migrants into America has soared from $500 million in 2018 to $13 billion this year — up 2,500%,” the New York Post recently reported.
The cartels have, in effect, become the “anti-border patrol,” pushing huge numbers of people across as the Biden administration’s policy of lax border security has gone into effect.
In fiscal 2022, an estimated 599,000 people crossed the border without being caught, government data show. Those include only those who were “observed on cameras or detected via sensors, footprints or other means, but were never apprehended because of a lack of manpower,” according to a Fox News report.
In fiscal 2021, the total number of so-called “gotaways” totaled 389,155. In 2020, President Donald Trump’s final full year in office, there were just 69,000.
These aren’t only impoverished Mexican and other Latin American residents, but also tens of thousands of people from African and Middle East nations, many of which support terrorist groups. This poses a potential security threat, according to a congressional investigation.
And, more recently, there’s been an especially large influx of immigrants fleeing collapsing communist states.
“Failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in encounters at the southwest U.S. border,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Chris Magnus last month.
Final numbers aren’t in, but CBP estimates more than 2.1 million people crossed into the U.S. in fiscal 2022, a record. Along with them has come a flood of deadly illicit drugs, including the hyper-potent opioid fentanyl, which has been implicated in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans each year and is now the leading cause of death among those aged 18-45 years.
Then there’s the surge in crime rates, as reported by the Department of Justice, that has accompanied the new rise in illegal immigration.
Given this background, it’s no surprise that border issues loom large in the upcoming midterm elections. Or that, with many cities facing crises from the sudden influx of illegals, a firm bipartisan majority that wants Washington to build a border wall to keep unwanted visitors out has emerged.
While many Americans continue to show solid support for controlled immigration, they seem increasingly worried about chaos on the border and on U.S. city streets. A number of other recent polls confirm this will be a major issue, along with inflation, rising crime rates and the souring economy, as voters go to the polls on Nov. 8.
I&I/TIPP publishes timely and informative data each month from our polls on this topic and others of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.
Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.