October 4, 2018

National Poll: Family Separation is Top Priority for Majority of Likely Voters, Second Only to Healthcare

Issue is pushing swing voters toward Democrats, dividing Republicans, and motivating the Democratic base

The majority of likely voters strongly oppose the Trump administration’s family separation policy, believe it is still a serious and high-priority issue, blame President Trump and congressional Republicans for it, and are more likely to vote for Democrats because of it, according to an ALG Research national poll released today and commissioned by the Families Belong Together coalition.  

The poll found a majority of likely voters (54%), including 51% of independents, say that reuniting separated families should be a top priority for the government right now, putting the issue on equal footing with creating jobs and behind only healthcare as a priority. The policy has turned immigration into a motivating issue for Democrats and voters of color: 64% of Democrats, 64% of Hispanics, and 79% of African Americans reported the policy makes them more likely to vote this November, as did 49% of Whites. By a +19-point margin, voters say this issue makes them more likely to support Democrats in the 2018 elections, with the margin growing to +30 points among Hispanic voters.  

Released as hundreds of children remain separated from their families  and 3 months past a court-ordered reunification deadline, the poll shows the Trump administration’s family separation policy continues to be a political liability for Trump and Republicans in Congress: 64% believe the policy was a failure, compared to only 16% who believe it was a success, and the majority of likely voters (72%) blame Trump, although 74% say congressional Republicans are also responsible.

Likely voters show little support for the family separation policy, with only 28% supportive and 66% opposed – including 68% of independents opposed. Meanwhile the policy has deeply divided Republican voters, with 50% supportive and 44% opposed.  On top of that, most voters are less likely to support candidates for office who supported this policy (56% less likely vs. 20% more likely), including 62% of Independents.

“Republicans have long considered immigration an issue that motivates their base, but the tide appears to be turning,” said Jeff Liszt, a partner at ALG Research. “The family separation policy is motivating Democrats and Independents to head to the polls to reject the leaders who supported it, and it has turned immigration into a top voting issue among Americans who used to be more focused on other areas.”    

“Americans loudly and clearly reject the family separation policy that is still inflicting trauma and cruelty on children, and they are placing the blame squarely where it belongs: with the Trump administration who created it and the congressional Republicans who are enabling it.” said Jess Morales Rocketto, co-chair of the Families Belong Together coalition. “Despite Trump’s best attempts to demonize immigrants trying to build a better life for their families, this brutal policy has driven millions of Americans to take to the streets in protest and open up their wallets in compassion – and now we know it will drive them to the polls in November as well.”

About the Survey

ALG conducted a nationally representative online survey of N=1,200 likely 2018 general election voters from September 12-17, 2018. The survey was conducted in both English and Spanish.

About Families Belong Together

Families Belong Together includes nearly 250 organizations representing Americans from all backgrounds who have joined together to fight family separation and promote dignity, unity, and compassion for all children and families.  Led by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Women’s Refugee Commission, MomsRising, FWD.us, United We Dream, People’s Action, ACLU, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, MoveOn and others, the coalition has raised millions of dollars for immigrant children and families, mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in all 50 states to take action, and helped to reunite thousands of families. Families Belong Together continues its work to permanently end family separation and incarceration, seek accountability for the harm that’s been done, and immediately reunite all families who remain torn apart.

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