Democrats and Non-Trump Republicans Share Views

On immigration and trade, anti-Trump Republicans have more in common with the other party than their own.

Traffic is reflected in the glass of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City, New York, October 23, 2011
Traffic is reflected in the glass of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City, New York, October 23, 2011 (Dave Powell)

On immigration and trade, Republicans who opposed Donald Trump have more in common with Democrats than they do with fellow party members who backed the businessman from the start.

A SurveyMonkey poll conducted for the website FiveThirtyEight found that whereas 76 percent of Trump’s supporters want immigration to fall, only 21 percent of anti-Trump Republicans agree it must come down. That’s close to the 26 percent of Democrats who say immigration is too high.

61 percent of non-Trump Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats, by contrast, agree that immigration should stay more or less the same. The remaining 17 and 22 percent, respectively, would welcome higher immigration.

There is similar cross-party agreement on trade. Half of Trump’s supporters think trade deals are bad for the American economy; only 20 percent of anti-Trump Republicans agree against 28 percent of all Democrats.

By contrast, 55 percent of Republicans who don’t support Trump think free trade is generally good for the economy, as do 43 percent of Democrats.


That Trump’s voters are negative about immigration and trade is unsurprising. The New Yorker has made his entire presidential campaign about these issues.

The fact that other Republicans are more positive about free trade and that Democrats are more supportive of immigration isn’t exactly shocking either.

But non-Trump Republicans’ views on immigration and Democrats’ support for free trade points to a larger trend that could ultimately see the parties realign.


As I wrote here in May, there is tension in both parties. Jeb Bush- and Marco Rubio-voting Republicans have really more in common with Hillary Clinton-voting Democrats than they do with most of Trump’s supporters.

On the other hand, mostly white working-class voters have gradually abandoned the Democratic Party over the last few decades, creating a more inward-looking, nativist Republican constituency.

If these shifts continue, Democrats could end up as a coalition of upscale, progressive whites and ethnic as well as sexual minorities, many of whom live in the country’s major cities. Indeed, they are already close to that vision.

Democrats would be diverse and outward-looking. Their policies would be more liberal in an economic sense and internationalist.

Republicans would be mostly white, mostly rural, more protectionist than they are now and more skeptical of foreign entanglements than they have been since the start of the Second World War.

Their voters would prize homogeneity: common values and a sense of community that is alien to big-city dwellers and the globetrotting elite.

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