Trump’s Message on the Border Appears To Be Winning Over Some Democrats Recent Polls Show

By: Alex Trent | Published: Apr 01, 2024

2024 GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has been hitting the campaign trail hard with fiery rhetoric surrounding what he has called an invasion of migrants at the US-Mexico Border.

While many are decrying the language used by Trump, recent polling shows that it may be effective in swaying people, even convincing some Democrats into taking the problem more seriously and blaming President Joe Biden for it.

Democrats Increasingly Disapprove of Biden’s Border Policy

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted in March found that two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the southern border.

President Joe Biden walking away from an event

Source: Shutterstock

Among those, 4 in 10 Democrats, 55% of Black adults and 73% of Hispanic adults said that they thought Biden had mishandled border security. These numbers are concerning for Democrats, who rely on the support of these groups to fill out their voting base.

Pew Research Survey

Another recent poll from the Pew Research Center found that a majority of Americans agree with a Trump-like framing of the southern border issue as a huge problem. 45% of respondents said that security at the southern border is in a “crisis” while 32% said that it was a “major problem.”

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

This goes to show that Trump’s alarmist framing is winning out over Biden’s, who has characterized the border problem as merely a policy dispute that Congress can fix with a piece of legislation.

Rejecting Biden’s Framing

These Biden-critical Democrats, while some may not ultimately vote for Trump, are still a cause for concern for Biden ahead of the 2024 presidential race. Some of them like Vetress Boyce, a racial justice activist in Chicago, saw Biden’s policies as hurting people who are already here who need the help more.

Joe Biden speaks at a rally in 2019.

Source: Michael Stokes/Wikimedia

“They’re sending us people who are starving, the same way Blacks are starving in this country. They’re sending us people who want to escape the conditions and come here for a better lifestyle when the ones here are suffering and have been suffering for over 100 years,” Boyce said. “That recipe is a mixture for disaster. It’s a disaster just waiting to happen.”

Backing Trump for the Border

Gracie Martinez is a Hispanic who runs a small business in Eagle Pass, Texas. This town sits on the US-Mexico border and is the one Trump visited when making a border speech in February. Previously, she was a supporter of Barrack Obama but has said the issue at the border has made her support Trump.

A close-up portrait of President Donald Trump in 2016.

Source: Library of Congress/Unsplash

“It’s horrible,” Martinez said. “It’s tons and tons of people and they’re giving them medical and money, phones.” In Martinez’ view, people who go through the proper legal immigration channels are treated worse than the recent influx of asylum-seeking migrants.

Everyone is Worried

Concerns about the impacts of undocumented migrants flooding across the southern border appear to be shared among many groups, not just typical Republican voters.

A view through a tall, vertical metal fence with a smaller chain-link fence at the bottom, both featuring barbed wire at the top. Silhouetted figures of people can be seen on the other side of the barrier

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ruby Menchaca, a Hispanic bar owner in Eagle Pass blames the migrant crisis for hurting his business. “I need those soldiers to be around if I have my business,” Menchaca said of Texas forces dispatched to the border. The bad ones that come in could break in.”


Border Crisis

The increased awaress of this border issue came as the result of record high border crossings that occurred in late 2023. The US Border Patrol reported that it had almost 250,000 encounters with migrants who were attempting to cross into the country from Mexico.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, dressed in a green uniform with a badge visible on his arm, is holding up a small white card with text, presumably a document, for inspection

Source: Wikimedia Commons

It was the highest encounter month on record, shattering the previous 224,000 encounter record in May 2022.


Changing Perceptions

Another Eagle Pass resident, Priscilla Hesles, described how she felt the border crossings had changed the town.

The Mexican-American border wall in Tijuana, Mexico

Source: Barbara Zandoval/Unsplash

“We don’t know where they’re hiding. We don’t know where they’ve infiltrated into and where are they going to come out of,” Hesles said. Helses used to take an evening walk in her area but has since stopped after an encounter she had with a group of men who she said were migrants.


Shift in Support

Krish O’ Mara Vignarajah is the CEO of immigrant resettlement group Global Refuge. Vignarajah feels that not enough is being done to counter Trump’s rhetoric which is causing this change in support.

A shot of the border fence at Sunland Park in the United States.


“Certainly the last several months have demonstrated a clear shift in political support. I think that relates to the rhetoric of the past several years, and just this dynamic of being outmatched by a loud, extreme of xenophobic rhetoric that hasn’t been countered with reality and the facts on the ground,” Vignarajah said.


Republicans Impacting the Conversation

Recently, Republicans and Trump allies like Texas Governor Greg Abbot have been sending migrants detained at the border to Democrat cities like New York and Chicago. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is captured in mid-gesture, speaking passionately at a public speaking event

Source: Wikimedia Commons

At the time, some Democrats dismissed the move as a publicity stunt, since bussing started, these cities have experienced constrained resources and city budgets.


Border Bill Failure

In early February, a bill was making its way through the US Senate that promised a stricter policy on the US border which Mitch McConnel, the Republican Senate leader, supported.

A group of six individuals, including three U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in green uniforms, and Joe Biden in a suit and sunglasses, walk alongside a tall brown border fence

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The bill came in conjunction with a Ukraine funding deal and was swiftly defeated 48 hours after Trump spoke out against the deal. This further proves Trump’s power in the way he is able to dictate the terms of the border conversation.


Looking Ahead

As the November elections draw near in America, it is looking like how people see the issue of immigration will be a major factor in determining which way voters will go. Currently, Trump’s messaging seems to be resonating with many voters despite Democrats decrying its harshness.

Official White House photograph of President Joe Biden/Official White House photograph of former president Donald Trump

Source: White House/Wikipedia

This puts Biden in a tough spot. If he advocates for stricter border security he risks alienating his base, who are already apathetic towards the president ahead of the election. However, he needs to build inroads with disaffected voters who might be swayed by Trump’s rhetoric and show them he is capable of addressing their border concerns.