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The unexpected arrival of nearly 50 migrants in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, last week reignited America’s ever-simmering immigration debate. That was exactly what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he intended when his administration chartered the two flights to relocate the migrants, at least some of whom were asylum seekers. This move followed in the footsteps of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, whose administration has been relocating migrants to liberal places like New York City and Washington, DC for months. And just as Americans have been divided over these specific policies, they are further divided on the issue of immigration — often holding surprising and conflicting views.
A poll by The Economist/YouGov conducted in the days after the Martha’s Vineyard flights found that Americans were evenly divided on whether or not they approved of sending undocumented immigrants from Texas and Florida to northern cities, without notifying those cities: 44 percent “somewhat” or “very” support, while 44 percent “tend to” or “strongly” oppose (12 percent weren’t sure). Democrats tended to oppose the resettlement effort, 71 percent opposed it while three-quarters of Republicans agreed.A Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 42 percent of registered voters thought it appropriate that “some Republican governors from states along the U.S.-Mexico border allowed thousands of migrants to liberal states and cities.” sent in the US,” another 41 percent said it was inappropriate. However, there was no strong consensus on both sides of the political c hen gangs. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats said it was inappropriate and 66 percent of Republicans said it was appropriate, but a quarter of Democrats and one in five Republicans disagreed. And in a separate poll by YouGov, Americans were also divided when asked whether they approve or disapprove of Southern Republican governors sending undocumented migrants to Democratic-controlled cities without notifying those cities. This division held even in different regions of the country. About 41 percent of Americans in each region listed (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West) approved of these moves by GOP governors, and about 44 percent in each region opposed them.
Americans’ views on this specific piece of news reflect the broader disparities surrounding immigration. When asked in an August Economist/YouGov poll whether immigrants illegally in the US should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship or be required to leave the country, the Americans split at 44 percent to 41 percent. They were similarly ranked in other YouGov data this week: 37 percent of Americans said undocumented immigrants were treated “fairly” and 38 percent said “unfairly.” And in an April poll by Republican pollster Echelon Insights, likely voters were evenly divided on a number of immigration-related issues. Thirty percent said immigration should remain at current levels, while 45 percent said it should be reduced and 15 percent said it should be increased. Meanwhile, 39 percent strongly supported building a wall along the US-Mexico border, while 32 percent strongly opposed it.
Where Americans find consensus about immigration is the belief that illegal immigration is a problem in the first place. In this August Economist/YouGov poll, 59 percent of Americans said the current situation at the US-Mexico border was a crisis. While Republicans were very likely to say so (81 percent did), a majority of Democrats (45 percent) agreed the situation is a crisis. A majority of Americans also said it was “completely” or “somewhat” true that the US is experiencing an “invasion” on its southern border, according to an NPR/Ipsos poll conducted in July. At the same time, a sizeable majority of Americans (72 percent) in a poll by the August Pew Research Center said admitting refugees should be a “very” or “somewhat” important goal of U.S. immigration policy, and that’s true for both Democrats (85 and 87). percent) and Republican (58 percent).
Concerns about immigration are clearly shared by Americans of all political persuasions, and the recent relocation of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard has helped bring them back into focus. While the percentage has declined over time, a majority of Americans “mostly” or “completely” agreed that “the current increase in migrants attempting to enter the United States at the southern border is due to that Joe Biden was elected president,” according to a June Fox News/Beacon Research/Shaw & Company Research poll. And in an NBC News/Hart Research Associates/Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted earlier this month, a majority of registered voters (56 percent) said the Republican Party is handling border security better, and a majority (46 percent) favored the GOP on immigration. It’s possible that Republicans like DeSantis will do everything in their power to bring the issue into focus just weeks before the midterm elections and try to switch the channel from issues less favorable to Republicans, like abortion.
Other polling bites
- A recent Insider/Morning Consult poll found nearly half of Americans (41 percent) thought the age of our political leaders, like the President and those in Congress and the Supreme Court, was a big issue, and another 37 percent thought so this is a minor one for a major issue – a breakdown that has remained fairly consistent across all political leanings. 75 percent of Americans supported the introduction of age limits for congressmen as well. Additionally, a majority agreed that a president should “definitely” undergo a physical and mental exam to take office, with Americans ages 55 to 64 (71 percent) saying this most often.
- Older Americans were more likely than younger Americans to say formerly incarcerated people who have served their sentences deserve to be considered for jobs, according to a May 11, 16 YouGov poll report. 82 percent of adults aged 65 and over agreed, compared to 67 percent of those aged 18 to 29. Additional data from YouGov also found that nearly all Americans over the age of 65 (93 percent) said ex-prisoners had at least a little more difficulty finding work, while about three-quarters of adults ages 18 to 29 did.
- According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in August, Americans were hostile to both capitalism and socialism. Just over half (57 percent) of Americans are “very” or “somewhat” positive about capitalism, up from 65 percent in May 2019. On the other hand, 36 percent of Americans today have a positive view of socialism, which is lower than the 42 percent who agreed three years ago. Still, a larger proportion of adults (65 percent) agreed that socialism helps people meet basic housing, health, and nutritional needs at least somewhat, compared to those who said the same thing about capitalism (47 percent). Meanwhile, 64 percent also said capitalism could give people equal opportunities to succeed, while just 52 percent said the same about socialism.
- A YouGov poll conducted Aug. 29-Sept. 2. 5 found that half of Americans enjoy true crime content, a breakdown that accounts for a significantly higher proportion of women (58 percent) than men (42 percent). The study also revealed a gender breakdown of those engaging in more violent subjects within the genre: 60 percent of women said they had ever consumed murder-related true crimes, while just 43 percent of men said the same. In particular, a set of responses to another question in the poll could help clarify this breakdown: Seventy percent of women agreed that the genre helps listeners become “more alert and safer” in their own lives.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 42.5 percent of Americans approve of the work Biden is doing as president, while 53.0 percent oppose it (a net approval rating of -10.5 points). At this time last week, 42.3 percent agreed and 53.1 percent disagreed (net agreement score of -10.8 points). A month ago, Biden had an approval rating of 40.9 percent and a disapproval rating of 54.3 percent, for a net approval rating of -13.4 points.
In our average of polls for the general congressional vote, Democrats currently lead Republicans by 1.9 points (45.2 percent to 43.3 percent). A week ago, the Democrats led by 1.4 points (44.8 percent to 43.4 percent). At this point last month, voters favored the Democrats by 0.4 points (43.9 percent versus 43.5 percent).