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Capitol Hill. The government funding bill is one of multiple pieces of legislation the 118th Congress will soon try to pass.

Inside House Democrats’ private polling on immigration

News: Internal polling presented Wednesday to House Democrats showed that immigration is ratcheting up in importance in the minds of voters. Now, the party is trying to figure out how best to message on an issue that Democrats have traditionally adopted a defensive posture on.

A national DCCC-commissioned poll of more than 1,000 likely voters in 63 competitive House battleground districts found that immigration and abortion were the top two “dealbreaker” issues for respondents. In the poll conducted March 5-10, 36% of voters said they couldn’t support a candidate who disagreed with them on abortion, while 33% said the same for immigration.

It’s an acknowledgment that Democratic candidates in tough races can’t ignore immigration and cede the issue to Republicans railing against President Joe Biden’s border policies. Instead, House Democrats see a path to victory by slamming Republicans for blowing up the bipartisan Senate immigration and border security deal earlier this year.

Immigration: When voters were asked whether they preferred a Democratic candidate who backs stricter immigration enforcement and immigration reform over a Republican who wants to build a border wall and aggressively deport undocumented migrants, the Democrat won out 51%-44% among all voters.

The specific issue positions listed for the Democrat in that scenario were support for increasing border enforcement funding, comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for Dreamers and high-skill immigrants who pass background checks and pay taxes.

These findings align with the winning immigration strategy of Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) in a February special election on Long Island. Suozzi spoke up during the presentation.

“The best, most effective politicians are the ones who say what people are already thinking,” Suozzi told us after. “And the people are thinking about the border and immigration, so we have to talk about that regularly.”

Democrats are emboldened because they feel they can hit Republicans for sinking the bipartisan Senate border package.

“We’re going to tell voters that if they don’t have border security, they can blame it on the Republicans,” Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.) added.

The poll found that overwhelming majorities of voters favored stricter immigration enforcement, like cracking down on fentanyl smuggling (92%), increasing Border Patrol and ICE funding (78%) and toughening the standard for asylum seekers while allowing those immigrants that qualify to work immediately (72%).

Abortion: There’s a reason why Democrats have continued to bang the drum on abortion rights. It was a winning message in 2022 and appears to be effective yet again in 2024.

The poll found the top attack lines against Republican candidates were on abortion. When voters were told Republicans want to pass a national abortion ban, 52% said that was very concerning. The same percentage said it was very concerning that Republicans supported overturning Roe v. Wade.

Inside the room: Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) accused members who haven’t yet paid their DCCC dues of not wanting “to give Hakeem Jeffries the gavel.” Craig added that if members want to learn how to fundraise, they should ask a Frontliner for advice. Ouch!

House Democratic leadership trumpeted how the House Majority PAC outraised the Congressional Leadership Fund last quarter. Leadership also hailed that HMP only narrowly trails their GOP counterpart on cash on hand, despite spending more in Suozzi’s election.

— Max Cohen, Heather Caygle and Mica Soellner

Presented by AARP

AARP knows older voters. 

We’ve made it our business to know what matters to people 50 and over—like we know that protecting Social Security and supporting family caregivers are among their top priorities. Learn more from our polling in Pennsylvania.

Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.