Voters overwhelmingly want stiffer enforcement of America’s immigration laws and a clear majority says President Biden’s border policies have sparked a drug surge that has cost lives, according to new polling.
By nearly a 2-1 margin, voters also say if Mr. Biden follows through on ending the Title 42 pandemic policy that allowed some illegal immigrants to be expelled quickly back to Mexico, “the border will be open.”
The survey, sponsored by the conservative Senate Opportunity Fund and conducted by OnMessage Inc., also found voters across the ideological spectrum believe the U.S. is headed for an economic recession.
The data, which is shared with GOP senators and conservative leaders, paints a grim picture for Democrats who face voters this year amid fierce headwinds, some of their own making. The Senate Opportunity Fund on its website says that part of its mission is to “conduct national and state polling so conservatives can talk to constituents and media in clear, concise messages that resonate.”
That’s particularly true for the border, where 62% of those surveyed agreed with the statement that the president’s “failure” to constrain drugs crossing the southern border “has directly led to increases in crime and overdose deaths,” compared to just 27% disagreed.
Even among self-identified liberals, 40% agreed compared to 43% who disagreed.
Overdose deaths set a record in 2021.
But it’s not just drugs. Some 55% said Mr. Biden has already eliminated “almost every tool to secure the southern border” and when Title 42 ends the border “will be open.” Just 29% disagreed.
Even liberals tended to agree with the open-border assessment, by a 42-37 margin, the Senate Opportunity Fund polling found.
Title 42 is slated to end May 23, and the Department of Homeland Security is bracing for the already record levels of illegal immigration at the southern border to nearly triple, with as many as 540,000 people a month attempting to cross from Mexico into the U.S.
Mr. Biden has also curtailed construction of the Trump administration’s border wall, erased cooperative agreements that allowed illegal immigrants to be shipped back to Central American nations they crossed en route to the U.S., and derailed the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy that pushed asylum-seekers back across the boundary to await their immigration hearings.
Offered the option to bring back Remain in Mexico and end what the pollsters called other “incentives” that are fueling the migrant surge — an overwhelming 73% agreed with the idea, including 54% of liberals.
Immigrant-rights advocates acknowledge that Democrats will struggle with the border issue, though they suggest immigration as a broader matter may turn out to be “something like a draw” for voters.
America’s Voice pointed to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll that found voters fairly evenly divided on which party they felt would do better in handling immigration, with the GOP favored by 37% and Democrats by 34%.
Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, said last week that Democrats should “lean into the issue” by marrying a plan for border security with openness toward those coming.
“It’s time for nervous Democrats to reach the voters available to them with a stand that comports with their views,” he said. “It’s time for those covering and commenting on this debate to stop hyping the electoral implications of this issue unless and until there is strong evidence for the assertion.”
It’s not just immigration where Democrats face public skepticism.
On the economy, 74% of voters surveyed — including strong majorities across ideological lines — believe the country is headed for a recession.
In an over-sampling of states likely to see competitive races in November’s midterm elections, 80% expect a recession.
The Senate Opportunity Fund survey also tested a potential strategy for the looming abortion debate. The poll asked about support for Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that found a national right to abortion in the Constitution, if voters are told it allows “abortions up to the point of birth,” considered the most extreme pro-abortion stances
Given that, 57% said they would not support Roe, compared to 26% who would.
The poll was taken online May 4-6 and sampled 800 likely voters, with an oversample of 447 people in “contested” states. The national poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
• Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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