Democrats, Republicans Split on Diversity and Immigration

More than three-quarters of Democrats, but less than one-third of Republicans, are comfortable with diversity.

Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005
Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005 (Thomas Hawk)

Americans overall have very liberal views of immigration, but there is a partisan divide:

  • An NBC News-The Wall Street Journal poll found that more than three-quarters of Democrats, but less than one-third of Republicans, feel comfortable with societal changes that have made the country more diverse.
  • Democrats, only 29 percent of whom are white and Christian anymore, embrace ethnic and religious diversity as central to the American idea. Republicans, nearly three quarters of whom are white and Christian, see these changes as eroding what they believe America to be about.
  • Not surprisingly, Donald Trump’s supporters worry the most. The Pew Research Center found (PDF) that only 39 percent of them agree diversity makes America stronger.
  • Analysis of post-election survey data by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found that 79 percent of Americans who agree with the statement “Things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country” voted for Trump.

Why it matters

  • Republicans in Congress have little incentive to rein in Trump’s nativism, for example, by giving amnesty to immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children.
  • Republicans are becoming the party of inward-looking America, nostalgic for the past and fearful of the rest of the world. Democrats are becoming the party for Americans who are at ease in the twenty-first century.
  • Democratic efforts to win back lower-class whites who defected to Trump are unlikely to be successful. Those voters have a totally different outlook on society than the rest of the Democratic coalition.