Battleground Poll: Border Now Top Issue Surpassing Inflation; Soft on Crime Policies Rejected by Voters

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 14, 2024) – Cygnal, the nation’s fastest growing and most accurate private polling firm, released the following national poll of 39 battleground districts (conducted Mar. 5-7) of 1,500 likely general election voters. 

“On the issues most important to voters, the crisis at the southern border has surged in the last two months to the top of list in battleground districts,” said Vice President of Polling, Brock McCleary. “When asked about border enforcement, a large plurality said the government should enforce existing immigration laws and deport migrants in violation of it, including 52 percent of Independent voters.” 

“On crime and public safety, voters are nearly unanimous in their feeling that the U.S. criminal justice is not tough enough on crime; so much so that we are now actually encouraging crime rather than deterring it,” said McCleary. “Over three quarters said they would oppose candidates who support the soft-on-crime ideology, which should be a wakeup call for Democrats in battleground. Over 40 percent of voters said Democrats are to blame for recent spikes in crime across the country. Most voters believe criminal justice policies encourage more property and violent crimes instead of curtailing them, highlighting voters’ desire for candidates who take this issue seriously.” 

Here are McCleary’s top takeaways from this new national poll: 

  1. Border security is now firmly the top issue (30%), up 11 percent since January and surpassing inflation which fell to 23 percent overall. Hispanic voters are driving this change with a 13 percent increase among these voters toward border security and away from other issues. Independents continue to care more about inflation, while Republicans are focused on border security, and Democrats are still expressing concerns over threats to democracy. 
  2. 47 percent agree the U.S. needs to enforce current immigration laws and be allowed to deport those who enter illegally. Other key voter groups who expressed the same views in these battlegrounds included 52 percent of Independents and 47 percent of suburban voters. A quarter of Americans said the Democrat Party is most extreme on their stance regarding border security and immigration furthering their low marks on America’s top issue. 
  3. Most voters think laws are not strict enough and encourage both property and violent crimes with 74 percent saying the U.S. is not strict enough on property crimes and 79 percent on violent crimes. Additionally, 51 percent believe the system does not hold violent criminals accountable thereby encouraging it further. 
  4. Democrats are playing dangerous game being soft-on-crime. Voters overwhelmingly reject soft-on-crime candidates with 77 percent of voters saying they would oppose a candidate who supports a social justice-driven crime agenda, including a whopping 80 percent of Independents. Continuing this approach on crime is a critical error for Democrats as more voters equate soft-on-crime with soft-on-the-border; especially when 41 percent said the blame for rising crime rests with the Democrats. 
  5. Disapproval of Biden’s job performance in office remains high (57%). Kamala Harris receives comparable unfavorable numbers at 57 percent in these key battlegrounds and continues to weigh-down the Biden campaign with poor numbers among key voter groups. Due to speculation about Michelle Obama, her image stands in contrast to Harris particularly among Independents, college-educated women, and suburban voters.