So Republican voters really care so much about immigration. To hear the Republican candidates debate the best manner in which to fix our immigration system, you would think that most voters are in favor of rescinding President Obama’s executive actions on immigration and deporting every single undocumented immigrant from the United States on the day after inauguration. Is that really so?
In an article entitled, GOP Cares a Lot Less about Immigration than Donald Trump Says, by Amanda Sakuma, she reports on exit polls compared to the rhetoric spewed by the candidates. In nearly every exit poll during this primary, Republican voters ranked immigration as last when asked to choose the most important issues facing the United States. The economy, jobs, and government spending were most important to the voters.
In fact, roughly half of the voters surveyed indicated that they supported a path to legal status for the undocumented immigrants in this country. Moreover, even a large share of Trump supporters backed this plan. Yet Trump’s rise to the top was largely built on his anti-immigrant stance including disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants, building a wall to keep out immigrants, and suggesting that Muslims should be banned from entering the United States.
So the anomaly here is that, despite the voters’ priorities, they still are making Trump the front runner which shows that there is clearly a style over substance issue here. What’s most troubling is that an increasing number of Republican voters do, in fact, support Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from this country. In New Hampshire, 65 percent of Republicans were in favor of the ban. In Arkansas, 76 percent, and in Tennessee it was 71 percent. The support of a Muslim ban spanned from the Northeast to the deep South among Republican voters. That tells us more about us as a people as much as it does about Trump and it is frightening.
So the foregoing brings up an interesting scenario. Why would a new President make immigration the first priority when taking office if it is clear from exit polls that immigration is not the number one priority to the voters? The fact that immigration is not number one in the minds of voters demonstrates that it does not affect their day to day.