Immigration Up Sharply as Most Important U.S. Problem

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans’ perceptions of the biggest problem facing the U.S. shifted a bit over the past month, with increased percentages mentioning immigration and healthcare, and fewer citing government leaders or poor government, generally.

Americans are more likely to name immigration as the top problem facing the U.S. in November than they were in October — it surged to 21% from 13%. Mentions of healthcare as the most pressing issue also increased, from 6% last month to the current 11%. Meanwhile, the proportion who name government and poor leadership decreased by nine percentage points to its current 18%, but this remains among the top problems.

These data are from a Nov. 1-11 poll, which spanned the days before and after the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

The current 21% who cite immigration or illegal aliens is about as high as the record 22% Gallup recorded in July. The issue’s move to the top of the list comes after a large group of Central American immigrants, widely described in the media as a caravan, formed last month with intentions of crossing the U.S. border. It became politicized by President Donald Trump, who declared the caravan a “national emergency” and sent 5,000 troops to the border to try to prevent illegal entries.

Immigration had already ranked among the top-named issues in the months leading up to the caravan’s formation, but the issue’s politicization in the weeks before the midterm elections appears to have elevated it further.

The issue is of particular concern to Republicans, 37% of whom name it as the most important problem — an increase of 17 points from the prior month. This well exceeds the 18% of independents and 10% of Democrats citing immigration as the top issue.

Another major issue in the midterms, healthcare, also gained prominence in November, with mentions rising to 11% — up from 6% in October. There were small increases in mentions of this problem among all party groups, with 8% of Republicans saying healthcare is the biggest problem, along with 12% of both Democrats and independents.

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