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Immigration is a top concern for Americans as election approaches, USF national poll finds

Female poll worker sitting against a wall with a Vote placard in the foreground
Steve Newborn
A majority of respondents to a recent USF poll said "pocketbook issues" like inflation and the economy were top priorities ahead of November's presidential election.

University of South Florida researchers found a majority of registered voters polled across the political spectrum are in favor of more patrol agents and physical barriers along the U.S. southern border.

Americans are concerned about immigration. That’s according to a recent national survey conducted by University of South Florida researchers.

When measuring the attitudes of 1,500 registered voters, 77% support increasing the number of patrol agents at the U.S. southern border, while 60% support increasing physical barriers there.

However, even across the political spectrum, respondents were not in favor of more controversial border policies. According to the survey, a plurality of those polled — 48% — oppose sanctuary cities and 66% oppose family separation policies.

“I was surprised,” said Megan Corn, a graduate student and research assistant at the USF School of Public Affairs. “I thought there'd be more support just across the board for everything."

Of those polled, 47% said states should be allowed to implement their own immigration policies. This support comes mostly from Republican respondents — 64% of Republicans polled support the idea, while only 40% of Democrats polled agree.

A majority of Republican respondents, 56%, strongly support deploying the National Guard to the southern border, while 23% of Democrats and 31% of independents support this measure.

The study, which was sponsored by Cyber Florida at USF, found among most likely voters, 74% are also most concerned with “pocketbook issues," like inflation, the economy and job security.

USF researchers also studied whether politics is causing stress for Americans.

They found that 64% of respondents say politics is at least a minor source of stress and 18% say it's a major stressor.

Corn said social media could be a big factor.

"There seems to be a trend with social media use and increasing political stress,” Corn said, “which is an interesting thing for us to look at, especially considering that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And while we're still kind of figuring out the extent to which social media impacts this, we know that it can't be improving the matter."

Out of those polled, 15% said they had lost sleep within the past month because of politics.

The survey also found politics is causing disputes between friends and family. Out of those who responded to the survey, 31% had political conflicts with friends and 33% had similar conflicts with family members. Also, 31% of those polled have lost their temper over politics within the past month.

Other topics in the survey included election integrity and views on the Democratic and Republican parties.

According to Corn, 94% of voters surveyed said they were at least planning on probably voting in the upcoming presidential election.

The nationwide survey included a representative sample of 1,500 registered voters, fielded May 3-9, 2024. Results are reported with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error +/- 2.5%.

Aileyahu Shanes is a WUSF Rush Family Radio News intern for the summer of 2024.