As the midterm elections rapidly approach, President Trump is eager to rally his base, escalate voter turnout and see a pro-Trump referenda come November. Returning to his incendiary rhetoric on immigration, a strategy that helped propel Trump to the White House in 2016, the president may be disappointed. Ford School professor Brendan Nyhan contends that “public opinion data sugget[s] that Trump has failed to convince the public on immigration and has helped to turn the public against his positions."
In his October 26 Medium piece “How Trumpism Actually Made Americans More Favorable Toward Immigrants,” Professor Nyhan claims that President Trump has inadvertently rallied public opinion against his anti-immigration position. And the numbers don’t lie. Citing a recent Washington Post/ABC News Poll, “twice as many Democrats as Republicans named immigration as one of the top issues facing the country." More notably, Professor Nyhan points out how in June 2018, 67 percent of Americans supported “unauthorized immigrants living in the United States to stay and apply for citizenship”—a 12-point increase since Trump announced his presidential candidacy in 2015.
While the statistics appear to demonstrate growing popular support for more lenient immigration policy, it is doubtful that the president will alter his obstinate stance on immigration or dilute his provocative rhetoric. Regardless of the stakes at hand this November, Professor Nyhan says, it seems current public opinion will not “deter him from campaigning on the issue."
Brendan Nyhan is a professor of public policy at the Ford School. Nyhan also serves as the co-founder of Bright Line Watch and is a 2018 Carnegie Fellow.