tags: , , , , Polling, Press Releases

How is Trump Going to Win in 2020 on Immigration When Strong Majorities Oppose Him on Immigration?

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“Trump may believe he is the chosen one, but these numbers don’t lie.”

President Trump clearly believes immigration should be the central issue in his reelection strategy. Stephen Miller clearly concurs. And many pundits seem to agree, believing Trump must have some special insight into the electorate on the issue, given that he won in 2016. 

However, when you look at the recent experience and data, there is no evidence whatsoever for this belief. Trump and Miller focused exclusively on immigration down the homestretch of the 2018 midterms, and their xenophobia backfired. And since then, Trump’s immigration numbers have gotten worse. The polling summary below highlights polls conducted in the past three months that show most Americans are strongly opposed to Trump on immigration. 

The evidence paints a picture of a President desperately reaching for his go-to issue and failing and flailing. 

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Without a doubt, Trump is going to run on racism and xenophobia. And yet, the majority of Americans reject Trump’s cruelty toward immigrants, support legal status for undocumented immigrants, want to welcome refugees, and support pragmatic solutions. Moreover, they are disgusted with Trump’s divisiveness. Now, tell us how this issue is going to get him reelected? He leaned on immigration in 2018 – with xenophobic ads, caravan hysteria and racial incitement – and it backfired badly. In the midterms, he lost a nationwide referendum on his presidency by 8.4 percentage points in the House popular vote, quadrupling the margin he lost by in 2016. The evidence in recent polls is overwhelming. Trump may believe he is the chosen one, but these numbers don’t lie.”

This week’s Quinnipiac poll of 1,422 registered voters found that Donald Trump “is decidedly underwater” with the American public on his handling of immigration issues – 38-59%: 

  • Overall on handling of immigration: 38% of approve; 59% disapprove. 
  • Independents:  29% approve; 66% disapprove. 
  • Men: 44% approve; 32% disapprove.
  • Women: 32% approve; 64% disapprove.
  • White w/College Degree: 38% approve; 58% disapprove.
  • White w/ No College Degree: 47% approve; 48% disapprove.
  • Democrats: 6% approve; 92% disapprove.
  • Republicans: 83% approve; 14% disapprove.

The pollsters’ analysis also noted, “In addition, 62 percent of voters say that President Trump is doing more to divide the country as president, while 30 percent say that he is doing more to unite the country – an all-time low. These numbers may help explain why only 36 percent of voters report that they are very or somewhat satisfied with the way things are going in the nation today.” 

A massive Reuters/Ipsos poll of more than 4,000 Americans, released August 19, 2019, found, “Trump’s brand of white identity politics may be less effective in the 2020 election campaign.”

  • 61-24% support for a “creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.” Americans overwhelmingly support this option, including by pluralities or majorities of every partisan group: 80-11% among Democrats, 55-24% among Independents, and 45-39% among Republicans.
  • White Americans are now 19 percentage points more supportive of path to citizenship for the undocumented. Compared to their 2016 poll, Reuters writes in their poll summary that, “White Americans are also 19 percentage points more supportive of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.” 

Pew Research polled 4,175 respondents, released August 12, 2019 found that, “The American public is broadly critical of the way that the federal government is dealing with the increased number of people seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

  • 65% say the federal government is doing a bad job dealing with the increased number of people seeking asylum.
  • 86% say it’s important to increase the number of judges handling asylum cases.
  • 82% say it is important to provide safe and sanitary conditions for asylum seekers once they arrive in the United States.
  • 69% say it is important to provide more assistance to countries in places like Central America.
  • 74% say it is important to reduce the number of people coming to the U.S. to seek asylum.
  • 60% say it is important to make it easier for asylum seekers to be granted legal status in the U.S (53% say it is important to make it harder).


  • 72% are in favor a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.
  • 77% reject the idea that undocumented immigrants are taking Americans’ jobs.
  • 73% say undocumented immigrants are as honest and hardworking as American citizens.
  • 69% say immigrants are no more likely than citizens to commit serious crimes.

A Gallup poll of 3,038 respondents released on August 13, 2019 found that a growing majority of Americans support allowing refugees from Central America into our nation: 

  • “Americans are slightly more likely now (57%) than in December of last year (51%) to support allowing refugees from Central America into the U.S.
  • “Support for allowing Central American refugees entry is now higher than Gallup has found for most refugee cases it has polled on historically, including Syrian refugees in 2015 as well as stretching back to refugees from the German Holocaust in the 1930s and 40s.”
  • Among the three main U.S. partisan groups:
    • Democrats remain most supportive of allowing the refugees entry, with the current 85% approving similar to the 82% recorded in December. 
    • The largest increase in support has been among Republicans, from 14% in December to 24% now. 
    • Approval among independents increased slightly from 52% in December to 58% today.

 A CNN poll of 1,613 Americans released on July 2, 2019 finds that Americans’ overwhelming top priority for immigration policy is legalization and citizenship:

  • “majorities across party lines say that the government’s top priority in dealing with immigrants living in the US illegally ought to be developing a plan to allow some people doing so to become legal residents”
  • Overally, 80% support legalization; including 96% of Democrats, 81% of independents and 63% of Republicans. 
  • Just 15% overall — and only 32% of Republicans — say the nation should prioritize deporting all people living in the US illegally over developing such a plan.

A Fox News poll of 1,001 registered voters and released on June 16, 2019 found that by a 3-1 margin Americans support relief for Dreamers, and by a 2 -1 margin think Trump’s enforcement of immigration laws has gone too far:

  • Do your favor or oppose “allowing illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought to the United States as children to legally stay in the country, provided they pass a background check?” 73% favor; 24% oppose: 
  • “Do you think the Trump administration’s enforcement of immigration laws has gone too far, not gone far enough, or is about right?” 50% gone too far; 24% not gone far enough.