Over the last several days, a caravan of migrants has been making its way across Central America, determined to enter the United States. These migrants are fleeing their countries reportedly due to violence and corruption, which nobody doubts. The biggest issues with this caravan are the optics. Regardless of the situation of the migrants, it doesn’t look good that 7,000+ people who are not citizens, residents, or documented refugees of the United States are barreling down on our board with one outspoken demand; let us in.
Polling across the spectrum of pollsters show that 75% (at the low end) and up to 95% (at the high end) of Americans agree on US border security. Regardless of partisan politics, America as a whole is generally on one side of this issue; The country needs to have strong borders and enforce immigration laws. Partisan party preference aside, the country essentially agrees. The question now is how does this Caravan and all its media attention play into the politics that each side is?
How this affects the midterms:
If recent history shows us anything, it’s that the first midterm election of any president is usually bad for the controlling party. Modern midterms have shown that the president’s party loses an average of 30 seats in the House and Senate. Bill Clinton lost big in his first midterm. Bush lost big in his second midterm. Obama got rocked in his first midterm.
Most outlets are predicting the status quo will remain unchanged and the Democrats will take the house and maybe even the Senate. However, the Caravan provides an interesting angle for the President and the Republicans.
On the political side, the choices do not look good for the Democrats. They have only two options: one, they advocate for the caravan and its ability to march right across Mexico and into the United States, or two, they do the unimaginable… Agree with Donald Trump. It’s a sticky situation to be in when you’re running on partisan issues just two weeks out from the President’s first midterm election.
Given the political climate and what the polls show for support of open borders, this caravan is going to be a big test of the nations patience. If the migrants are able to illegally cross the border, lodge asylum claims, and are released into the United States pending adjudication, it’s likely that many more South and Central Americans will attempt the same thing. The question then becomes, who is to blame? Do Democrats get the blame for not fighting for strong borders? Or does the President get blamed for letting it happen on his watch?
It remains to be seen as for whether or not this caravan is going to impact the polls. Given that the midterm elections tend to be based on different turnout models, will the Caravan help the Republican turn out? President Trump sure seems to think so. It’s one of his key talking points during his most recent rallies across the country. But we’ll all find out on November 6th.