New Poll Finds Biden Is Losing the Discussion on the Border

By: Alex Trent | Published: Apr 21, 2024

A new poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies for Newsweek has found that the conversation around the border is not shifting in Joe Biden’s favor.

The poll found that now only 20% of Americans think the US has control over its own border, a number that has fallen from 34% of Americans in just eight months.

Border Survey

This survey asked eligible voters about immigration, which has become a top issue in recent years as the number of migrants coming across America’s borders has surged.

A white Border Patrol SUV parked next to a tall security fence topped with concertina wire under an overcast sky

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Voters were asked: “Do you believe the United States has control over its borders?” 63% of respondents said no while only 20% said yes. 13% of respondents answered “I don’t know” to the question.


Biden Voters Too

Interestingly, when looking at the breakdown of respondents who supported Biden in 2020, the number of respondents who answered “no” is troubling for the Democrat candidate.

President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on the phone at his desk.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

A 53 percent majority of those who voted for Biden in 2020 answered “no” to this question. This survey was conducted on April 11 and recorded responses from 1,500 eligible voters.

Failure of Washington

Thomas Gift, head of the Centre on U.S. Politics at University College London, told Newsweek that the issue has become a recent focus ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

The U.S. Capitol building seen underneath a clear light blue sky.

Source: Caleb Perez/Unsplash

“The death of the $118 billion immigration bill in February reminded many Americans of the complete inadequacies of Washington to deal comprehensively with the nation’s immigration challenges. Not only do fewer voters think that the country has control over its border. The issue has also become more salient,” Gift said.

Top Issue

Gift backed up his assertion by referencing a recent Gallup poll that showed an increase in the number of people who think immigration is the top issue in America today.

An immigrant or migrant crosses the Tijuana-San Diego border wall.

Source: © Tomas Castelazo, / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

“According to Gallup, 28 percent of respondents now list immigration as America’s most important problem, more than double the number who said that last fall. The same poll shows that respondents are twice as likely to say immigration is the country’s top problem compared to the economy in general. Other issues—from abortion to Russia’s war in Ukraine, to the Israel-Hamas conflict—barely register in comparison,” said Gift.

Biden Losing the Conversation

These numbers are bad news for President Biden. Many American voters tend to blame the president who is currently in charge for problems that happen under their watch, regardless of the actual ability or control they have over them.

In the foreground, the President of the United States is captured mid-speech, standing at a podium with an American flag in the background. The focus is on him, with the Vice President slightly out of focus, standing behind and clapping

Source: POTUS/X

Earlier in his presidency, Biden tried to downplay the extent of the issue. In 2021, The White House had to backtrack after Biden accidentally used the word ‘crisis’ when talking about the border.


Feelings in 2021

After Biden made comments characterizing the border as a ‘crisis’,  a White House official had to clarify to CNN that Biden was talking about a crisis in Central America and not the US border. This shows the resistance to use this language at the time.

Joe Biden in a striped shirt stands behind a microphone at an outdoor speaking event. He is mid-speech and appears to be addressing an audience

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“No, there is no change in position. Children coming to our border seeking refuge from violence, economic hardships, and other dire circumstances is not a crisis,” a White House official told CNN in 2021.


Fast Forward to Today

Biden tried to keep language around border issues tame early in his presidency, but as things began to heat up, The White House had to adjust its strategy.

Close-up of the back shoulder of a U.S. Border Patrol officer's uniform, displaying a large yellow patch with the word 'POLICE' and 'U.S. BORDER PATROL' underneath

Source: USBPChief/X

In January of this year, Biden disagreed with his own Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ testimony when Mayorkas said the border was secure. In recent years, The White House has shifted from downplaying the problem to blaming a “broken” immigration system and demanding it is something that Congress needs to fix.


Mayorakas Impeachment

The testimony that Mayorkas delivered to Congress in which he called the border secure got him into hot water from Republicans. In February, the US House impeached Mayorkas, though the impeachment proceedings failed to pass through the Senate.

Alejandro Mayorkas photographed in 2021.

Source: DHSgov/Wikimedia

Just last week a 2nd impeachment attempt was underway, but it was ultimately dismissed in the Senate before it could really get started over questions of constitutionality.


Trump’s Rhetoric

Donald Trump has pushed to make the border issue one of the central focuses of this year’s general election through incendiary rhetoric.

Donald Trump is captured in mid-speech, pointing directly at the camera with his right hand

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In March, he made comments calling some undocumented immigrants “not people” and has framed the situation at the border as an escalating crisis that threatens American well-being and sovereignty in a major way; placing the blame squarely at Biden and Democrats’ feet.


His Rhetoric Seems to Be Working

A March Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that two-thirds of Americans are unhappy with the way Biden has been handling border security, including 4 in 10 Democrats.

Side profile of former President Donald Trump in a suit and tie with a blue background. He appears to be looking off to the side

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Pew Research also found recently that 45% of Americans describe the situation at the border as a ‘crisis’ and 32% say it is a “major problem.”


Tough Spot for Biden

Joe Biden is in a tough spot as even some of his own Democrat supporters disapprove of the job he is doing and think what is happening at the border constitutes a crisis.

Joe Biden in a dark suit with a red tie is holding a microphone, speaking passionately with his hand raised

Source: Wikimedia Commons

However, some in his base would also express negativity if Biden did anything harsh to “crackdown” on the border, making it hard for him to take clear steps to address the problem himself. This is one reason he has wanted to rely on Congress. However, Congress has seen a border spending bill torpedoed in recent months due to the influence of Trump and Republican disagreements resulting in little progress being made.