New survey: Americans do not support Trump’s policies at the border

YouGov Blue
Jul 10 · 4 min read

YouGov Blue and Data for Progress fielded survey items on YouGov Blue’s biweekly registered voter omnibus related to the crisis at the border. This survey is based on 1,014 interviews conducted by YouGov on the internet of self-identified registered voters between June 27 and June 30, 2019. Below we summarize some key findings:

Americans overwhelmingly think how children are being treated at the border is unacceptable.

After describing news reports about conditions at the border, we asked respondents to describe their view of what was happening.

Recently, there have been news reports of unsafe and unsanitary conditions for children held in detention at the border. Children have been reported to be without toothbrushes, soap, and blankets, and older children are reportedly caring for babies they don’t know. Which comes closer to your view?

1. These are unacceptable conditions that need to be fixed immediately so children have a safe environment. Our government should not treat children this way.

2. These are not our children, and they should not have come or been brought here. The government is doing all that it needs to be doing.

The wording of the latter option is a direct reference to an argument used recently on Fox News in defense of the Trump administration’s policies.

Over two-thirds of Americans, 68 percent, agreed that these are unacceptable conditions that must be fixed immediately. Only 32 percent agreed that what the government was doing was sufficient since “these are not our children.”

Looking at the data by a host of demographic factors does not cut into this strong rejection of Trump’s policies — on age, gender, race, education, and born-again religious identification, we see overwhelming agreement among voters that these detention practices are unacceptable and that they believe the government must stop these practices.

The only major demographic cuts where we do not see majority support among each group are when we look at partisanship and ideology. When we look at partisanship, we see that on net both Democrats and Independents agree that the conditions are the border are unacceptable. Here, we group “leaners” — Independents who say they lean toward one party or the other — in with their respective parties. Democrats are almost unanimous in their belief that conditions at the border are unacceptable, while 59 percent of independents say these conditions are unacceptable. Due to the smaller sample size of “true Independents” it is difficult to say with confidence how split they truly are on this issue. Republican voters are much more split than their Democratic counterparts: while a majority supports the Trump administration, 40 percent do say that conditions are unacceptable. We see an almost identical pattern when we look at this question by ideological groups (liberals, moderates, and conservatives).

Americans expect the Trump administration to use new funds allocated by Congress primarily to conduct raids against immigrants, not to provide increased care.

Later in the survey, we asked voters to consider a hypothetical scenario in which Congress would allocate new funding to Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE). We asked respondents,

If Congress were to increase funding for ICE, no matter how it is allocated by Congress, what percentage of that funding do you believe the Trump administration would use to care for migrants and what percentage do you think would be used for raids on immigrants who are not here legally?

Respondents could allocate between zero and one hundred percentage points between either “care for migrants” or for “raids on immigrants.” In the following chart, we plot the distributions of theoretical percentage points of each. Respondents reported believing more of the new funding would be spent on raids than it would be on caring for migrants, with on average respondents believing that 58 percent would be allocated to raids and only 42 percent to migrant care. The dotted lines in that chart represent the averages of the two choices, with the blue line representing percentage points allocated to “care for migrants” and the red line representing points allocated to “raids on immigrants.” Voters do not believe that the Trump administration will use the majority of new funds for ICE to help improve the situation of migrants at the border, no matter what strings Congress attaches to any legislation.


This survey is based on 1,014 interviews conducted by YouGov on the internet on a biweekly omnibus survey of self-identified registered voters. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, Census region, and 2016 Presidential vote choice. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s panel to be representative of registered voters. The weights range from 0.2 to 6 with a mean of 1 and a standard deviation of 0.7.

YouGov Blue

Written by