The average swing voters in the suburbs don’t want to ban straws, phase out appliances that work well, and regulate cheeseburgers, while embracing Hamas, MS-13, mass migration, and higher taxes. They don’t want their communities fundamentally transformed by illegal immigration and mass migration, nor do they want to shoulder the cost. That is the simple upshot of a very comprehensive Harvard/Harris poll of 2,531 registered voters nationwide taken just last week.
Clearly, because of his distractions and gratuitous comments, President Trump is not very popular on a personal level with voters. But when you actually drill down into the issues Democrats are fighting for, voters side with conservatives. The problem is that Republicans refuse to harness sustained and aggressive policy debates over these issues that force Democrats to take tough votes and display their radicalism before the American people. This allows Democrats to keep the focus on Trump’s personality rather than their radicalism. It doesn’t have to be this way. Indeed, if Trump stays focused on ending illegal immigration, locking up criminals, de-regulating costly restrictions on important household products, and creating jobs, he will win a second term and win back the suburban voters, according to the Harvard/Harris poll.
Here are some key takeaways:
Immigration ranked as the top issue for voters, well ahead of other issues – with 40 percent of all respondents saying it’s the top issue, including 41 percent of suburban voters. Surprisingly, that is equal with the percentage of rural voters who ranked it as the top issue, and rural voters are usually perceived as the most anti-illegal immigration.
Free stuff and weak security vs. free opportunity and national security is a no-brainer: The poll asked a very straightforward question summing up the key differences between the competing visions without any other leading questions: “Which candidate are you more likely to vote for – A presidential candidate who stands for the green new deal on climate change, Medicare for all, free college tuition, opening our borders to many more immigrants and raising taxes to pay for these programs or a presidential candidate who stands for lower taxes and reduced government regulations, strengthening our military, strengthening our border to reduce illegal immigrants, standing up more to China and Iran and seeking better trade deals for the US.”
The answer? 60 percent support the latter – what is perceived as the conservative vision – and 40 percent support the former. 58 percent of moderates and 63 percent of suburban voters supported the latter as well. Which tells you that if the election is framed in this way – and Republicans actually pick fights that accentuate this division – the outcome of the election will be favorable to Trump.
The open border is toxic: Next, the pollster asked the most and least likely position stance that would make you vote for a candidate. The absolute least likely was “opening up our borders to many more immigrants,” with just 36 percent supporting this proposition, including just 32 percent of suburban voters. Tied for the least popular issue was “Raising taxes to pay for more programs.” Conversely, 70 percent of voters said they’d be more likely to support a candidate who supports “strengthening our border to reduce illegal immigration,” including 71 percent of moderate and suburban voters and even 58 percent of Hispanics.
Siding with China and Iran is not a winner: 80 percent of overall voters and 82 percent of suburban voters said they would be more likely to vote for someone who stands up to China and Iran.
Voters don’t want mass migration and can’t even fathom it: Another fascinating question posed by the pollster was whether the respondents thought we have too much legal immigration, too little, or just about the right level. Just 23 percent responded, “too little,” which is the view of the political class, 45 percent said just the right amount, and 32 percent said too much.
But here’s the catch: Most people have no idea just how much record immigration we have in this country. When asked by the pollster, “How many legal immigrants would you say reside in the United States today?” almost all of the respondents lowballed the real number by a mile. More than 80 percent guessed that we have fewer than 10 million immigrants residing here, while 45 percent thought that we have some varying level below one million residing in the U.S. In reality, there are over 44 million immigrants residing in the country, not including the illegal immigrants, and that number is on pace to rise rapidly. The pollster should have then re-asked whether the levels are too high after informing respondents of the true number.
Voters don’t want to pay for immigrants: By a margin of 57-32 percent, respondents said they believe legal immigrants use welfare somewhat or a lot. When asked “Should the United States deny green cards to immigrants who might be deemed likely to be heavy welfare users?” 60 percent agreed they should be denied, including 56 percent of Hispanic voters. Moreover, 68 percent of voters said immigrants should be required to speak English.
Then when asked, “Should immigrants who are here illegally be able to collect welfare, disability and healthcare payments from the state and federal governments or not?” 78 percent said no. That includes 80 percent of moderates, 82 percent of suburban voters, 65 percent of Hispanic voters, and 71 percent of black voters. Also, 72 percent of overall voters and 76 percent of suburban voters oppose granting them driver’s licenses.
When asked whether illegal immigrants should be counted in the census, 59 percent answered no. However, the opposition might have been much higher had respondents been told that counting distorts congressional representation and the Electoral College. The question was only phrased in terms of allocation of funding to states. Of course, when asked whether illegal aliens should be allowed to vote, 85 percent of voters said no.
The moral of the story? Twitter and mass media are not America. Republicans are scared of their shadows and rather than hanging these issues around the necks of Democrats and seeking every policy and legislative fight imaginable to show up the radical views of the Left on these issues, Republicans either run away from them or downright agree with Democrats.
The challenge for Trump heading forward will be to pick several of these issues and focus relentlessly on the policies while ignoring the temptation to get drawn into fights that will make this an election about personalities over issues.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.