Two sets of poll results sure don’t make a trend. But they’re sure more convincing than one set of poll results. So recent surveys from Gallup and YouGov could signal an encouraging turning point in U.S. public opinion on immigration issues – and one brought about by the epic failure of the Biden administration’s Open Borders-friendly statements and actions.
Gallup’s findings were posted on August 8. The headline development? The share of American adults contacted between July 5 and 26 believing that immigration levels should be decreased stood at 38 percent. That’s the highest level since June, 2016 and up from 31 percent last June. Moreover, the annual percentage- point increase was the biggest since 2008 and 2009 – when the economy was mired in the Great Recession that followed the global financial crisis.
The share of respondents who wanted immigration levels to be decreased or remain the same (69 percent) was also the highest since June, 2016 (72 percent) and up from 66 percent last year.
By an overwhelming 70 percent to 24 percent, Gallup found that Americans agree that “on the whole” immigration is a “good thing” rather than a “bad thing.” But even though this question seems to focus on immigration views in the abstract, with no relation to current conditions, the “good thing” share of responses fell from 75 percent last year, and the “bad thing” responses rose from 21 percent.
In addition, the “good thing” responses represented the lowest percentage of the total since 2014 (63 percent) and the “bad thing” responses the highest since 2016. And the 46 percentage-point margin enjoyed by the “good thing” responses is a drop from last year’s 54 percentage points and the smallest since 2014’s 30 percentage points.
Also striking in the Gallup results: It’s no surprise that the 69 percent of respondents identifying as Republican wanting less immigration is by far the highest total since Gallup began asking these questions (surpassing 2009’s 61 percent). It’s also no great surprise that independent identifiers agreeing with this stance has rebounded lately a bit to 33 percent (though still far below its high of 51 percent in 2002.
But it’s really surprising, especially given their loathing of immigration restrictionist Donald Trump and the growing influence of progessives in the party, that the share of Democratic identifiers supporting less immigration is up from 12 percent last year to 17 percent this year.
The YouGov survey was conducted in late July, and reported that by a 35 percent to 31 percent margin, Americans believed that immigration “makes the country” “worse off” instead of “better off.” According to Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies, that’s a huge turnabout from what the same outfit found in September, 2019. Then, “better off” won by 43 percent to 19 percent.
At the same time, this latest YouGov survey found that 31 percent of Americans support increasing legal immigration versus 22 percent who want it reduced. Gallup didn’t draw the (critical) legal/illegal distinction. I don’t know how these results have changed over time. But the sheer size of the discrepancy indicates that even if American opinions are moving their way, it’s still far from certain that restrictionists (who I of course consider to be the adults in the room) have won the day.