The U.S.-Mexico border may be 2,400 miles from Manchester, but a new poll finds it is a front-and-center issue for Granite State voters.
Nearly three of four registered voters surveyed in the New Hampshire Journal/Praecones Analytica poll said border security and illegal immigration are very or somewhat important issues. And while there was no consensus on who was most responsible for the current border crisis, a plurality of Granite State independents blamed President Joe Biden.
“This poll demonstrates that— even a thousand miles away from the Southwest border— every town is now a border town because every community is being adversely affected by the catastrophe at the U.S.-Mexico line,” said Art Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies. “The voters are worried about what is going on, but whether the White House gets the message in time to stop electoral wipe-out in November is a different question.”
According to the poll, 74.5 percent said the issue was important, with nearly 40 percent saying it was very important. Just 22.2 percent said it was not very important or not important at all.
And despite the surge of opioids coming illegally across the southern border, more Granite Staters said their top concern about the border crisis is crime and terrorism (37.3 percent) than illicit drugs (27.4 percent).
Political partisanship appeared to play a significant role in determining who voters blame for the border security failure. While 57 percent of Republicans blamed Biden, 46 percent of Democrats blamed former President Donald Trump. Among independents, however, 30 percent blamed Biden, 23 percent blamed Trump, and 22 percent blamed cartels and foreign actors. And 62 percent of these unaffiliated voters said border security was very or somewhat important.
It is yet another issue that has Democratic policymakers at odds with a majority of Americans. The numbers may help explain why Democrats Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas have both shifted their stance on illegal immigrants to embrace stricter enforcement, more border walls, and the Title 42 policy the Biden administration used to turn back more than one million would-be undocumented border crossings.
New Hampshire progressives have denounced Hassan and Pappas for supporting a “racist” border policy.
Republican political strategist Patrick Griffin says the Democrats’ new policy stance is likely too little, too late.
“The problem with this deathbed conversion out of political desperation in an election year is that the damage caused by porous borders has already been done. Crime is rising, drugs being smuggled into the country are at an all-time high and corresponding fentanyl deaths are epidemic,” Griffin said. “The strain on healthcare, schools, and emergency services has been felt in every community these illegals have been shipped to across the country.
“Voters in New Hampshire know that the incumbent Democrats in the delegation have supported these damaging policies from day one. They suddenly support limited immigration reform to desperately attempt to find favor with voters in the coming election.
“Sorry, but the Democrats have nowhere to hide on this one.”
Longtime Granite State politico Tom Rath doesn’t agree.
“The ‘border war’ issue has never been at the top of New Hampshire voter priorities, and I don’t think 2022 will be any different,” Rath said.
Even if Rath is correct, however, the poll still puts Granite State Democrats in a bind. Biden’s approval has fallen below 40 percent and his disapproval is approaching 60 percent. The percentage of Democrats who disapprove of the job Biden is doing has jumped from about one in five (19.3 percent) to nearly one in four (23.7 percent) since April.
And the percentage of voters who strongly disapprove of Biden’s job performance (38.8 percent) is nearly three times larger than those who strongly approve (13.6 percent).
It is hard to argue the border is not in crisis. In April alone, 234,088 illegal immigrants were apprehended attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. That is the equivalent of the population of Manchester crossing the border — twice — and “likely the highest monthly numbers since the Border Patrol was formed in 1924.”
Hassan sits on the Homeland Security Committee where she oversees the agencies in charge of border security. She declined to respond to multiple requests for comment regarding the border. Pappas also refused to answer any questions on the subject.