Decriminalizing unauthorized border crossing is not a particularly popular idea among Americans, a new NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll suggests.
In total, 66 percent of those surveyed think it's a bad idea, compared to just 27 percent who support it. The debate is more split among party lines, with 87 percent of Republicans opposed compared to 47 percent of Democrats. The Democrats are split internally, as well, as 54 percent of self-identified "progressive" Democrats believe decriminalization is a "good idea," while only 34 percent of "moderate" Democrats feel the same.
There is little variation regionally (all regions hover between 66 and 67 percent in the "bad idea" category), racially (68 percent of white voters and 63 percent of non-white voters think it's a bad idea), or economically (those who make more than $50,000 per year oppose decriminalization at a 70 percent clip, while those making less oppose it at 63 percent.)
There are larger gaps between men (75 percent for bad idea) and women (57 percent), as well as among age groups, with 76 percent those between the ages of 39 and 54 opposing decriminalization, compared to 59 percent between the ages of 18 and 38. Similarly, among adults over the age of 73, 60 percent think it's a bad idea.
Essentially, the poll indicates that political persuasion is the most important indicator when it comes to stances on the issue. That's not great news for Democratic presidential candidates like former Housing Secretary Julián Castro who have pushed for decriminalizing crossings, as only the progressive left appears staunchly in favor.
The poll surveyed 1,346 adults in the United States over the phone between July 15 and July 17. The margin of error ranged from 3.5 to 5.4 percentage points across the survey's subsets. See the results on page 13 and page 26 at Marist Poll.