Trump and Biden are tied among immigrant voters

In this November 2022 photo, a first-time voter wears an "I voted" sticker after casting a ballot in Los Angeles County.

In this November 2022 photo, a first-time voter wears an “I voted” sticker after casting a ballot in Los Angeles County.Damian Dovarganes/AP/FileCNN — 

Donald Trump’s harsh talk about immigrants entering the country illegally has drawn backlash from Democrats, with Joe Biden’s campaign accusing the former president of parroting Adolf Hitler.

Even some Republicans have distanced themselves from Trump’s remarks, including 2024 presidential rivals Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.

Given all of the negative press Trump has generated, you might think his words will be sure to cost him votes.

Now, there isn’t polling – yet – to indicate whether or not voters like the particular words or phrases Trump has invoked in his anti-immigrant rhetoric. But what polls do show is that among voters overall, Trump is far more trusted than the current president on immigration and border security, and he is doing quite well among immigrant voters.

Take a look at the past two CNN/SSRS polls that asked about a potential Biden vs. Trump general election matchup. For each of them, the sample size included about 100 voters who were born in another country. Combined, you get about 200 respondents, which is large enough to tell whether one candidate is well ahead or well behind with immigrant voters.

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What we find in an average of the past two CNN surveys is that neither Biden nor Trump is ahead: The two are tied at 48% .

If this holds, it would be a major shift from the 2020 election, when Biden won immigrant voters by about 20 points, according to the Cooperative Election Study.

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This finding may be surprising to some. But remember that immigrants, as a whole, are far less likely to be White than the general voter population. And recent polling has shown Trump outperforming his 2020 numbers among voters of color (including Black and Hispanic voters).

Moreover, a separate CNN/SSRS poll from November could explain why immigrants may not be bothered by Trump’s words. For one thing, immigration and border security is not their top issue. Over 40% cited economic concerns (including inflation) as the top issue facing the country. Only a little more than 10% named immigration and border security.

These numbers are generally in line with the population as a whole.

But even if immigrants were voting solely on the issue of immigration, it wouldn’t necessarily be to Trump’s detriment.

When asked which party’s views on immigration were closer to their own, immigrant voters were only 1 point more likely to say the Democratic Party than the Republican Party. This is well within the margin of error.

Of course, immigrants don’t make up a large portion of the electorate. About 90% of voters in the most recent CNN polls were born in the United States or a US territory.

This only benefits Trump. Voters, overall, have been more likely to trust him over Biden on the issue of immigration and border security.

In a November Marquette University Law School survey, 50% of registered voters said Trump would do better on border security and immigration. Just 27% of voters said Biden would. (A September poll found similarly.)

This is a big change from what we saw on a similar poll question in 2020. Back then, Biden (43%) and Trump (42%) were basically tied on the question of who would handle immigration and border security better.

This comports well with what we’re seeing in immigration polling more generally from Gallup. A growing number of Americans are dissatisfied with the level of immigration into the country, and a growing number wants it decreased.

Nearly 80% of voters want an increased effortpresence at the southern border to stop illegal immigration, according to a September Marquette poll. This includes a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents.

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Even when it comes to something as controversial as building a wall along the US-Mexico border, we’ve seen a significant switch. The two most recent Fox News polls and the latest Quinnipiac University survey found for the first time that a majority of voters favored building Trump’s long-called-for wall along the US southern border.

Biden, on the other hand, has received some of his lowest approval ratings on the subject of immigration and border security.

That may be part of the reason why many voters – immigrants among them – are, at a minimum, willing to look past Trump’s rhetoric. They believe Trump is more likely than Biden to do what they prefer when it comes to immigration and the border.

And with the former president dominating the GOP primary and immigration being seen as one of his best issues compared with his Republican rivals, don’t expect Trump to stop speaking about it any time soon.

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