In light of new reports that President Donald Trump may be considering reinstating the family-separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, it is worth revisiting polling on the issue. In a June 2018 poll, the most recent data available, Quinnipiac asked respondents, “As you may know, some families seeking asylum from their home country cross the U.S. border illegally and then request asylum. In an attempt to discourage this, the Trump administration has been prosecuting the parents immediately, which means separating parents from their children. Do you support or oppose this policy?” Sixty-six percent of respondents overall said they oppose the policy, while just 27% said they support it.
Unsurprisingly, family-separation is most unpopular with Democrats (91% oppose), black voters (88%), Hispanic voters (80%), and voters 18-34 years old (80%). Women (70%), white college-educated voters (68%), and Independents (68%) oppose the policy in high numbers as well. The majority of white women (65%), voters 50-64 years old (65%), voters 35-49 years old (61%), men (61%), voters over 65 years old (60%), white men (55%), and white non-college educated voters (52%) oppose the family-separation policy. Republicans are the only demographic group to see a majority (55%) support it.
Some may argue that the policy was in place under the Obama administration, but perception is reality. If this polling is any indication, family-separation has toxic connotations right now, even among groups that voted for President Trump, like white non-college educated voters and voters over 65 years old. Additionally, only 55% of Republicans support it – not the 85% or 90% backing the president’s policies usually garner from his base. Understanding this now will be important for those running up-and-down the ballot in 2020.