In the past month President Donald Trump’s approval rating on the immigration issue has dropped five points and now sits at just 35% in the latest CNN Poll which came out on Monday.
This poll is the first hard evidence that Trump and the Republican Party may suffer politically from his new zero tolerance immigration policy which includes separating children from parents who are arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The CNN Poll is consistent with other recent opinion polls which have shown a reversal in the uptick of Trump’s overall job approval ratings. Trump’s approval rating stands at just 38% in the new CNN Poll.
In another new poll released Monday evening, CBS News announced they have found that two-thirds of Americans believe that it is “unacceptable” to separate children from their parents at the border.
Digging deeper into the CBS poll numbers shows how deep the partisan divisions are on the issue. While 90% of Democrats say that Trump’s separation policy is unacceptable, just 39% of Republicans disapprove of what Trump is doing. The key group here, as in many opinion polls, are those who say they have no party affiliation. These so-called “independents” are often the persuadable voters who “swing” between the two parties at election time.
It is probably very bad news for Republicans that two-thirds of these independent voters are firmly against what Trump is doing and believe the policy is unacceptable.
According to CBS:
“Americans who agree with the separation policy are more likely to be white, very conservative, evangelical, older, and to live in rural areas than those who find the policy unacceptable. They also overwhelmingly approve of how the President is handling immigration, more generally – at a greater rate than any partisan group.”
“Asked the reason they find the separation policy acceptable, they say they see it as an unfortunate consequence of the legal process at the border (61 percent) rather than a necessary way to deter others from illegally crossing the border (36 percent).”
This could be an important finding because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made several public appearances recently stating that the government’s rationale for its separation policy is that it will deter future migrants from attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. Most people believe that is not true.
The CNN Poll contained more bad news for Republicans on the topic of the so-called “enthusiasm” gap. What opinion polls don’t show is the level of passion behind the numbers. There is evidence that this year there is much more enthusiasm among Democrats than among Republicans, and the poll bears that out.
While just 28% of poll respondents said they “approve strongly” of Trump, 45% said they “disapprove strongly.” This is a very large differential in the intensity of feeling between those who favor Trump and those who disapprove of him. This could make a big difference in this year’s midterm elections.
As the immigration crisis continues to play out at the Mexican border and in Washington, and as Trump continues to dig in with his unpopular policies while Republicans in Congress do nothing, we can expect future poll numbers to be even more bad news for the GOP.
And what’s bad news for Republicans is good news for Democrats, and for the American people.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.