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Immigration Is One of the Most Divisive Major Issues Among American Voters

October 11, 2018

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For Immediate Release

October 11, 2018

Lauren Strayer
(202) 420-7928

Jack D’Amato
(404) 995-4500

New Democracy Fund Voter Study Group Report: Immigration Is One of the Most Divisive Major Issues Among American Voters

With midterm election less than a month away, new study finds that Americans are deeply divided on immigration, mainly along party lines.

Washington, D.C. – October 11, 2018

The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, a research collaboration of leading analysts and scholars from across the political spectrum, today released “Far From Settled: Varied and Changing Attitudes on Immigration in America.” In the report, author Patrick Ruffini analyzes VOTER Survey data from 2017 and 2018 about attitudes of Americans toward immigration.

“The division on immigration cuts across racial and ethnic lines, and is driven by partisanship first, then age and education,” said Patrick Ruffini, co-founder, Echelon Insights. “Not only do we find intense division, but voter attitudes are paradoxical: most Americans are sympathetic to illegal immigrants, for example, but seemingly extreme positions like a travel ban on Muslims also garner strong support.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • Voters are more divided by political party on the question of whether undocumented immigrants contribute to American society than on any other issue question except one: views of N.F.L. players kneeling during the national anthem.
  • There is a large partisan intensity gap on immigration, with Republicans and supporters of President Donald Trump assigning much higher priority to the issue than Democrats and Hillary Clinton voters.
  • American public opinion is not consistently pro- or anti-immigration. Politically, no one side holds a decisive upper hand in the debate.
  • Younger voters and voters with at least a college degree have distinctly pro-immigration views regardless of party.

“This paper analyzes voters’ attitudes about what it means to be American,” said Alicia Prevost, manager of the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group. “The continued divide on this issue is important to understand for anyone who cares about our democracy, because a sense of shared values and identity is one of the pillars of civil society.”

The full report can be found at, along with other research from the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group.


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