The latest UNH survey finds that 83 percent of Granite Staters say illegal immigration is a serious problem facing America. That is an astonishing number in an era of polarized politics when few issues can command large majorities. It’s also significant in a purple state far from the U.S.-Mexico border and is more evidence that concerns about border security extend beyond party lines.

“The issue has become bipartisan, and while Republicans have been speaking about this for years, Democrats have only recently come around to the importance of the issue,” said Dr. Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center.

In the new Granite State Poll, a States of Opinion Project conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, 58 percent of respondents said illegal immigration is a “very serious” problem, and another 35 percent said it was “somewhat serious.” That compares to “not too serious” (12 percent) and “not a serious problem at all” (4 percent).

Among self-declared independent voters, 88 percent say it’s a serious problem, and even 67 percent of Democrats agree.

However, New Hampshire voters aren’t as worried about the impact of illegal immigration here at home. Asked if it is a serious problem for the state, 43 percent said yes, and just 34 percent said it was a problem in the city or town where they live.

But with elections becoming more nationalized and border security a major stumbling block for President Joe Biden, the issue is extremely likely to be front and center in both the state’s primaries in September and the general election in November.

And while Donald Trump lost New Hampshire to Joe Biden by eight points in 2020, and polls have consistently shown him underwater in the Granite State, more of the state’s voters (49 percent) trust his ability to address the illegal immigration problem than Biden (41 percent).



The poll is particularly problematic for Granite State Democrats, who’ve doubled down on their opposition to increased immigration enforcement. Democrats have opposed a ban on sanctuary city policies, complained about spending state money on increased patrols at the northern border (where illegal crossings have surged), and accused New Hampshire supporters of border enforcement of being “racists” and “fascists.”

Polls show illegal immigration is the top concern nationwide, and it’s the hottest topic in the New Hampshire governor’s race as well.

Democrat Joyce Craig has been widely criticized for refusing to answer questions about her support for sanctuary city policies, as well as the endorsement she received from Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey. Healey’s currently embroiled in an immigration crisis in the Bay State, where taxpayers are on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars and a paroled migrant flown to the northeast by the Biden administration has been arrested for the rape of a disabled 15-year-old girl.

Craig’s Democratic competitor, Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, is also struggling with the immigration issue. She has reiterated her opposition to a ban on sanctuary city policies in New Hampshire. When asked by a local radio host, “Should citizens be concerned about illegal immigration, yes or no?” Warmington hedged, declining to answer either way. Instead, she said New Hampshire “needs immigration.”

Asked the same question on WFEA radio Tuesday morning, Gov. Chris Sununu answered “yes.”

Sununu told WFEA’s Drew Cline that at the most recent National Governors Association meeting, “The number one issue that Democrat governors and Republican governors wanted to talk about was illegal immigration…And none of them thought the Biden administration was doing a good job on it.”

Sununu also called support for sanctuary policies by Craig and Warmington “crazy.”

“Democrats running for governor saying they’ll support sanctuary cities in New Hampshire? That’s nuts, man. That is not what we’re about. States who have [embraced those policies] are doing horribly.”

Another major shift the UNH survey uncovered is support for a border wall. In 2017, soon after Trump became president, 61 percent of New Hampshire voters opposed it. Today, 52 percent support the wall, while 39 percent oppose it.

Neither Craig not Warmington would answer NHJournal’s questions about the new poll or their immigration policies.