Last week, I noted that both major political parties face significant challenges stemming from tensions between their traditional and populist wings.
In that column, I cited polling data noting that 31% of voters are looking for a candidate promoting Trump-like policies; 21% wanted a Sanders-like policy approach; 21% would like to see traditional Democratic policies; and 17% were in the traditional Republican camp.
The response from many on the political left was to mock the idea that former President Trump had any policies. This attitude, shared by many on the political left, may be the biggest long-term threat to the Democratic party. It’s always a mistake to underestimate your opponents.
The reality is that the desire for Trump-like policies existed long before Donald Trump gave voice to them. The best example of this may be the issue of immigration. Seventy-two percent (72%) of voters believe that illegal immigration is bad for America. Polling this past weekend found that view is shared by 90% of Republicans, 66% of Independents, and 57% of Democrats.
Voters wanted somebody to do something about the problem and they found only one candidate who sounded serious about border security. It wasn’t necessarily that voters wanted a wall built or a specific policy approach. But they wanted somebody to figure out a way to secure the border.
The issue isn’t going away just because Donald Trump is out of office. In fact, it has already become a major problem for the Biden Administration. Just 34% of voters give President Biden good or excellent marks for handling the situation at the southern border.
Many in Washington dismiss the immigration issue as a minor irritant. The Biden Administration refuses to even call it a crisis. But for voters it’s something far more serious. This past weekend, my polling found that 60% believe the growing number of people that have been entering the United States illegally is an invasion of the United States. Earlier polling found that 58% believe the drug cartels have more control of the Southern border than the U.S. government.
Opponents of border security try to blur the distinction between legal and illegal immigration. They talk as if opposition to illegal immigration is the same as opposition to all immigration. But that’s not the way voters see it. Just 11% of voters believe legal immigration is bad for the country.
A solid majority of voters (61%) believe that legal immigration is good for the U.S. and illegal immigration is bad for the nation. That’s a view quite consistent with our national heritage. We are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.
While immigration is perhaps the premier example of how Trump-like policies differ from other approaches, it is part of a larger theme. Voters want their leaders to stand up for our nation and its people. But too often elected politicians are often seen to be putting the concerns of other nations first.
For example, 66% of voters believe it’s likely that the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan, China laboratory. In fact, voters were suspicious from the very beginning. Even in the first month of the outbreak, more than one-out-of-four voters believed the Chinese had intentionally leaked the virus. Despite these voter concerns, the loudest voices in official Washington defended the Chinese and dismissed its critics. Social media platforms even blocked discussion of the view held by a majority of American voters.
The point is that there really are Trump-like policies. You don’t have to agree with them to recognize that many have strong support among American voters. If Democrats don’t recognize this reality and find appropriate ways to address the underlying concerns, they will soon turn control of the government over to the GOP.
Scott Rasmussen is an American political analyst and digital media entrepreneur. He is the author of “The Sun is Still Rising: Politics Has Failed But America Will Not.”