Republican Voters Agree With Trump On Immigration

A new poll shows that a near majority of Republicans agree with even some of Donald Trump's most controversial statements on immigration.

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A new poll shows that Donald Trump’s views on immigration are gaining favor inside the Republican Party:

Republicans need to make gains with Hispanic voters in 2016, but that reality is complicated by the fact that more adults support Donald Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration, a new Economist Group/YouGov Poll finds.

A whopping 49 percent of Republicans and independents who lean to the GOP say Trump is the presidential candidate who can best handle the issue — well ahead of Marco Rubio with 10 percent GOP support, Ted Cruz with 7 percent and Jeb Bush at 5 percent.

The divide in the GOP over how to address issues stemming from illegal immigration spilled over in the fourth Republican presidential debate Tuesday. The opt-in, Internet survey was taken Nov. 5-9, before the economy-focused debate in Milwaukee.

Trump traded barbs with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who called the front-runner’s idea to deport the estimated 11 million immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally “a silly argument” that “makes no sense.” Bush also attacked Trump, saying mass deportation would tear communities apart.

“Even having this conversation sends a powerful signal,” Bush said during the debate in Milwaukee. “They’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign now when they hear this.”

Trump’s plan to end so-called birthright citizenship and send all unauthorized immigrants back to their home countries helped propel him to the top of polls this summer.  Rubio and Bush both support a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants who undergo a background check, learn English and pay fees or taxes.

In another sign of GOP support for Trump’s strict immigration policies, more poll respondents reacted favorably to a comment by the real-estate mogul.

Sixty-five percent of Republicans and the independents who lean that way agreed with this statement: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Trump said that in June, but poll respondents weren’t told who said it.

By contrast, 77 percent of Republicans disagree with this comment: “Yes, illegal immigrants broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love; it’s an act of commitment to your family.” Poll respondents weren’t told that Bush said the comment in April.

A wide-range of Republicans, including 2008 presidential nominee John McCain, have said the party could be in danger of losing the 2016 White House race if the GOP doesn’t make gains with Hispanic voters.

(emphasis added)

The fact that Republicans tend to be supportive of Donald Trump’s views on immigration should not come as a surprise, of course. For one thing, the things Trump has been saying on this issue since he got into the race largely mirror majority Republican opinion on immigration for the past several years whether we’re talking about “border security” or the issue of what do about people in the country illegally. The fact that Trump continues to lead nationally as well as in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. Additionally, the fact that candidates who have been willing to distinguish themselves from Trump on immigration such as Jeb Bush and John Kasich see themselves falling in the polls while Marco Rubio, who made headlines two years ago as the chief Republican co-sponsor of the Senate immigration reform bill, has done everything possible to run away as fast as possible from his legacy and past statements on the need for immigration reform.  As I have said in the past, the fact that Trump is succeeding in the race for the the nomination is largely reflective of the fact that he is saying things the Republicans agree with, this is especially true when it comes to immigration. This also explains why candidates who are trying to push back against his anti-immigrant rhetoric are falling in the polls.

The question that all of this presents, of course, is what impact it may all have on the General Election in 2016. Even if Donald Trump isn’t the Republican nominee, it now seems apparent that he and his supporters are going to have a major impact on the direction the Republican Party takes over the course of the next year on this issue and others. The very real potential exists that it will further damage the GOP’s image among Latino and other minority voters that allows Democrats to motivate people to get to the polls next November. It has already been established that the GOP isn’t going to win nationally solely by relying on white voters, and that Democrats can vastly increase their advantage in several key Electoral College states if they can increase Latino turnout. If Trump’s rhetoric helps them do that, then it could succeed in taking out a Republican nominee who might otherwise have a chance of winning. The fact that there are so many on the right who are making the effort to push back against Trump’s rhetoric and that of his supporters is an indication that they are aware of the danger it poses to the party. The question they face, though, is whether, even if they succeed in denying Trump the nomination, they will be able to change the GOP’s image from the way it has been painted thanks to Trump’s rhetoric.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Campaign 2016, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

    No bigger lie has ever been uttered. These people are courageous, work hard, make monumental sacrifices for their families and their futures. Trump, a pampered son of wealth, is not a pimple on one of their a$$e$.

    We have a problem with immigration in this country and I am not nearly well versed enough to offer anything approximating a solution, but I know for damn certain that demonizing these people is NOT the answer.

  2. MikeSJ says:

    The Republican party has played a “twofer” for a long time and it looks like it’s finally going to bite them in the ass.

    They were happy to have illegals pour into the country for the cheap labor benefits for Big Business. They also got to rile up their base year after year about the illegals. A real win-win for them.

    Promise after promise after promise that something was going to be done once enough Republicans got elected were made. Promises they never intended of ever honoring.

    The problem is the base got riled up enough to actually expect something would be done about this. The Republicans couldn’t really come out and tell the truth now, could they? “Sorry, all that talk about deporting Mexicans was just to get you dummies to vote for us! Big Business really likes them you know so off you go!”

    Trump, to his credit, knows how to ride a wave and boy is he riding this one successfully. For all the talk about Rubio this or Cruz that Trump is still leading by impressive margins.

    I expect he’ll get trounced by Hillary in the election and the Republicans will have no one but themselves to blame for it.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    @MikeSJ: Trump is a salesman, and very good at it. He’s winning the GOP primary race because he’s telling the base exactly what they want to hear. It may work well enough to get him nominated. And once he is, I hope you’re right. But he’s lying his arse off to the Rs now. He’ll keep lying, but telling the general electorate exactly what they want to hear. I am far from confident it won’t work.

  4. SenyorDave says:

    I think if Trump said he was going to round up the 10 – 15 million illegal immigrants in some absurdly low time frame, put them in detention camps and then send their asses back they would agree with him. Oh wait, that is his plan.

  5. Scott says:

    So who are these Republicans and R-leaning Independents? What percentage of the population are they? Looking at the data quickly at the link, it looks like about 1/3 of the total population. So 1/6 support Trump. Still a lot but not as alarming as first thought.

  6. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I know for damn certain that demonizing these people is NOT the answer.

    If the question is “how do I get Republican votes?” it certainly is.

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    These people don’t seem to realize that if Trump is successful we will all starve to death, have to mow our own lawns and not be able to get a new roof.

  8. William J Harrison says:

    It has not been established at all that a Republican can not win by just winning the white vote. If Country Cluber Romney had gotten the 3 million conservative blue collar whites who voted for McCain to come out and vote for a more Nationalist immigration and refugee restrictionist policy, he would be President. And just as a matter of reality, increasing the Republican share of the mostly blue collar white vote from sixty percent to sixty-two percent gets you many more raw votes than increasing the Hispanic share from 27 percent to 51 percent. Now which is more likely to happen. Republicans upping there white percentage from sixty percent to sixty-two percent under Trump, or Republicans upping their Hispanic percentage from 27 percent to a majority 51 percent under Juan “el jefe” Bush? The writer’s premise is just therefore flat wrong and so is the Bush elite of the Republican party.

  9. CSK says:

    I don’t think the “base” gets it that in order to do what he’s promised, Trump would have to violate the Constitution–which they claim to revere–and impose martial law.

  10. Greg says:

    The headline should read:

    Trump Agrees With Republican Voters On Immigration

  11. An Interested Party says:

    It has not been established at all that a Republican can not win by just winning the white vote.

    Oh you go ahead with that…see if it works for you…get ready to hear “Madam President”…

  12. James Pearce says:

    An informal survey of my Facebook feed indicates Republican policy preferences continue to be weird.

  13. Greg says:

    @An Interested Party:

    get ready to hear “Madam President”…

    Many already understand the obvious.
    Some will never get it.

  14. Kylopod says:

    @William J Harrison:

    It has not been established at all that a Republican can not win by just winning the white vote.

    You are correct about that. W. won in 2004 while only getting a majority of the white vote. However, his share of the Hispanic vote wasn’t bad (44%). Had he gotten Romney’s paltry 27% of that bloc, he would have lost the election and John Kerry would have become president. And that’s the only presidential election where Republicans have won the popular vote since 1988, when Hispanics constituted a much smaller slice of the electorate than today.

    If Country Cluber Romney had gotten the 3 million conservative blue collar whites who voted for McCain to come out and vote for a more Nationalist immigration and refugee restrictionist policy, he would be President.

    Where are you getting these numbers? First of all, Romney got 4% more than McCain of the white vote overall. Second, you’re assuming that Romney could make a successful bid for white nativists without simultaneously decreasing his vote among other groups (including whites who are turned off by nativism).

    The point isn’t that Republicans have to “win” the nonwhite vote in order to win a presidential election; the point is that they can’t simply ignore it.

    When James Baker reportedly said “F*** the Jews, they don’t vote for us,” his statement at least had some factual basis. To say the same thing about Hispanics isn’t just racist, it’s also delusional.

  15. Tillman says:

    @William J Harrison:

    It has not been established at all that a Republican can not win by just winning the white vote.

    Republicans already win the white vote. Hell, between 2008 and 2012, their win in that demographic increased. Obama dropped in every other demographic in 2012 by a few percentage points except Asians and Hispanics.

    It’s not that they can’t win purely through the white vote, it’s that enough white voters don’t vote Republican to make it feasible. Any party that received 100% of the white vote would win a national election. However, the Democratic showing among minorities is strong enough with their ~40% of the white vote to make them victorious.

  16. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    The question they face, though, is whether, even if they succeed in denying Trump the nomination, they will be able to change the GOP’s image from the way it has been painted thanks to Trump’s rhetoric.

    This is nonsense, Doug. The GOP image isn’t what it is because of Trump’s rhetoric; as Greg above noted, Trump’s rhetoric is what it is because of who Republicans are. I know that fact upsets you, but the refusal to work out compromises on immigration predates Trump’s “Mexico isn’t sending their best” speech by what, a decade or so now? Trump is simply the guy who has come up with the most effective sales pitch for the attitude. He’s a good salesman, but like many good salesmen I’ve known over the years, he hasn’t an original idea in his head.

  17. David M says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    Trump is giving the customer what they’ve been asking for. That’s plenty disturbing on many levels, but I agree it’s obvious that if there wasn’t already a demand for it, he wouldn’t be trying to sell it.

  18. cian says:

    I think the republican base is pretty clued in to the reality that Trump has no intention of fulfilling his deportation plan. They do understand however that should he win the general he would make life as miserable as possible for millions of immigrant families (both illegal and legal) and while not the ideal, they would be happy enough with that.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK:

    Trump would have to violate the Constitution–which they claim to revere–and impose martial law.

    But you’re talking about the Constitution at the National Archives, not the bright shiny constitution in their heads, the one that says we’re a white Christian nation.

  20. KM says:

    They’re never going to win the majority of the white vote since white voters may very well be female, gay, poor and in need of Obamacare, blended families, pro-environmental or any of the other demographics they do so poorly with. It’s like they forget that people have more then one category they fit into – “white” seems to supersede all others in this for their logic when evidence shows it really really does not.

    They take the narrow constituency they want, start winnowing out what they feel are weeds and are shocked when there’s not enough left to coast them to a laurel wreath. You reap what you sow… so make damn sure you have enough to not starve before you plan your feast.

  21. grumpy realist says:

    And these are the same people who would get absolutely hysterical if they were requested to prove their U.S. citizenship…

    I guess we’re just supposed to pick “teh illegals” by their high consumption of nachos and salsa, hmmm?

    (Oh wait, we just kicked out the entire college-age population.)

  22. al-Ameda says:

    so, White Republican voters (redundancy right?) want this:

    (1) the deportation of 11 million ‘illegals’ +/- a few million
    (2) the government to harass or ‘incentivize’ millions of individuals and private businesses to identify and turn in suspected ‘illegals’
    (3) the contruction of a 1500-2000 mile wall on our southern border
    (4) the government of Mexico to pay for construction of said wall
    (5) all of this be at no cost to taxpayers

    … of course they do

  23. DrDaveT says:

    “Even having this conversation sends a powerful signal,” Bush said during the debate in Milwaukee. “They’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign now when they hear this.”

    Wow. Maybe he is the smart one…

  24. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: Somebody in the Clinton campaign live-tweeted that they were indeed doing high-fives. And I believe him.

  25. J-Dub says:

    Will I be penalized in some way if I harbor undocumented immigrants in my attic when the deportation force comes around? Is there any chance I might get shot?

  26. J-Dub says:

    Let’s see, 10 million people deported over 5 years with a deportation officer’s quota at one deportation a day would be about 5500 deportation officers. If they make $50k/yr that is $275 million a year or $1.375 billion over the 5 years. Of course, these jobs are temporary so they will be contracted out. So each deportation officer will cost more like $150,000/yr. They’ll need transport vans, holding facilities, etc….

    Screw it, the only way this is affordable is if we hire undocumented workers.

  27. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: Nah, Bush the lesser knew that much. After all, wasn’t he the guy who proposed an amnesty in the first place?

  28. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @J-Dub: Your math is wrong. A good deportation officer will be able to find ten, maybe even 20 people a day to charge for deportation. Think in terms of traffic ticket quotas. Lots of Driving while Black (to collar Mestizos), Driving while Hispanic, Walking or shopping while the same–in a good area, an enterprising and entrepreneurial officer might be able to collar as many as 40 or more.