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Support for ‘wall’ at all-time high among Republicans, low for Democrats, study finds

Pew study brings insight to the current Washington logjam

President Donald Trump’s border wall prototypes as seen from Tijuana, Mexico, in March. (Mario Tama/Getty Images file photo)
President Donald Trump’s border wall prototypes as seen from Tijuana, Mexico, in March. (Mario Tama/Getty Images file photo)

A new Pew Research Center poll finds Republican support for a southern border wall has reached an all-time high, while support among Democrats supporting the wall has never been lower.

The polling provides insight on deepening divisions between President Donald Trump’s $5.7 billion request for a border barrier and Democratic leaders’ opposition to any wall funding. It comes at a time when there’s no apparent end in sight for a partial government shutdown that’s now in its third week.  

The survey found a majority of Americans oppose “substantially expanding the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico,” and say the government shutdown is a “very serious problem” for the country today.

But 84 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents responded that a bill containing wall funding — even it if was the only way to end the shutdown — would be unacceptable. The number of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who favor a wall, or said any bill without funding would be unacceptable, was 63 percent.

Watch: It’s official – longest shutdown ever

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“There are stark divisions on the issue,” said Jocelyn Kiley, an associate director of research at Pew. “And, in addition, there’s little appetite to give ground on the issue as a means to end the shutdown.”

Pew polled 1,505 adults from across the U.S. and the District of Columbia between Jan. 9 and 14 for its study. The margin of error for the total sample was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The standoff reflects the negative feeling Americans have in their representatives’ ability to work together.

After the 2018 midterm elections, Pew asked Americans’ attitudes on the relationship between the two parties. It found 44 percent of those polled said they believed relations would continue to get worse, Kiley said.

It’s the highest percentage of those polled since the question was first asked in 2006, she said.

“The public, even before the shutdown, was pessimistic about the relationship between the two parties in the coming year,” Kiley said. “And that’s the context in which the current shutdown is occurring.”

Over three-quarters of Democrats believe the shutdown is a “very serious problem,” the Pew report said. About 35 percent of Republicans said the same. 

The Pew polling may be reflective of the country as a whole, but polling from Arizona — conducted by OH Predictive Insights — found less support for the shutdown in the border state.

In the OH online poll of 1,246 Arizonans, about 30 percent said they support President Donald Trump’s decision to shut down the federal government over funding a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, a press release said.

“Arizona has been a hotbed for illegal immigration issues for many years and to find Arizonans do not support a government shutdown for funding a wall is surprising to say the least,” said Mike Noble, a managing partner and chief of research at the Phoenix-based behavioral research company.

Trump’s overall job approval, according to Pew, is 37 percent. It’s about the same as last year.

More than half of those surveyed told Pew they “strongly disapprove” of Trump’s handling of the shutdown talks, while about a quarter “strongly approve.”

The pattern was similar in Congress. More Democrats disapproved of Republican leadership’s handling of the government shutdown than approved of their own party’s behavior. The same was true of Republicans polled.  

“It’s a characterization of the political polarization in the current climate,” Kiley said. “When it comes to attitudes about the shutdown, negative views about the other party are more deeply felt than positive attitudes about their own party.”