President Donald Trump’s supporters are far from united in opposing the goals of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds. But those with anti-immigration views are the ones who feel most strongly about the issue. More than likely, they’re also among the core backers who helped propel him to victory over his more mainstream Republican rivals.
Trump recently announced he was rescinding DACA but has since given conflicting statements ― some in favor ― on congressional efforts to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, a group sometimes known as Dreamers.
Such an effort is broadly popular. Nearly three-quarters of Americans consider the U.S. “a nation of immigrants,” and most believe immigration is a good thing for the country. A 58 percent majority favor allowing undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to stay in the country, with a similar percentage favoring a broader pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
Trump voters aren’t as positive: By a 15-point margin, 54 percent to 39 percent, they oppose allowing Dreamers to stay. But that’s far below the near-universal support they often show for Trump’s decisions. (Republicans, meanwhile, support DACA by a narrow 4-point margin.)
Trump voters who oppose the program feel much more strongly than those who support it, however. Three in 10 strongly oppose DACA, with just 11 percent strongly supporting it.
While there are relatively few differences between the Trump voters who do and don’t back DACA in age, education or income, there’s a difference in how they feel about the president. Trump voters who currently “strongly approve” of the president’s job performance oppose DACA by a 33-point margin. Those who only “somewhat approve” of the president, by contrast, are 7 points likelier to support the program than they are to oppose it.
Trump’s most fervent supporters take a dim views of immigration overall. They’re split on whether immigration is a good or bad thing for the country. Thirty-nine percent say that immigration into the U.S. has a negative effect on them personally, compared with just 21 percent of Trump voters who approve only somewhat of his job performance and just 15 percent of all Americans.
As other surveys suggest, there’s another thing that group likely has in common: Many are probably among the core group of supporters who helped him become the Republicans’ nominee in 2016.
Hard-line views on immigration were among the touchstones differentiating Trump’s primary supporters from the Republicans who fell in line only after he became the party’s official standard-bearer. The president’s initial backers, researchers found, were considerably more likely than other Republicans to consider immigration a very important issue and to hold hostile attitudes toward immigrants. Just a fifth of Republicans who supported Trump in the 2016 primary support amnesty for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, polling shows, compared with 37 percent of those who voted for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and nearly half of those who backed Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
It remains to be seen exactly how Trump’s latest statements in support of a congressional effort to protect Dreamers will shift opinions, both among his most hardcore and nativist supporters, and among those with less inflexible or well-defined views.
“For what it’s worth, I’ve seen/done enough polling that suggests most Republicans are A-OK [with] DACA [especially] if they’re told Trump backs it,” Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson noted Thursday on Twitter. Neil Newhouse, a pollster for the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies, also shared polling that he said indicated Trump’s base would follow him if he decided to extend DACA.
In a recent paper, two Brigham Young University political scientists found that citing liberal statements by Trump on topics including immigration was enough to significantly shift Republicans’ opinions in that direction, although the effect was least pronounced among the most politically knowledgeable respondents.
“Trump brings out a high degree of party loyalism among Republicans. They are quite moved by his position, regardless of the content,” Jeremy Pope, one of the authors, told HuffPost in an email. “While I would not say that everyone will be moved by his positions, I think a very significant fraction of Republicans will be quite responsive to whatever position Trump takes, giving him a great deal of freedom to adjust his position on any number of issues, immigration included.”
One recent survey, however, found less evidence of Trump’s words having an impact. A YouGov survey taken earlier this month found that 47 percent of Republicans supported DACA after reading a moderately positive statement from Trump, virtually the same as the 46 percent who didn’t read any such message. Among another group who saw a negative statement from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, 39 percent approved.
“Trump’s own partisans are divided down the middle, and it doesn’t make much difference what you tell them,” YouGov’s Doug Rivers concluded after looking at the results.
Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Sept. 12-14 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.