Perhaps the central theme of Donald Trump’s campaign is the building of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border which would theoretically stop or shore up illegal immigration.
At his rallies, crowds of thousands in unison erupt into chants of “build that wall” in the middle of Trump’s speeches, so much so, that the candidate stops speaking and walks around the stage in approval as the crowd continues only increasing in volume.
But as the elections near, Trump’s support in the states that actually make up the entire U.S.-Mexico border continues to soften. Two of the states — California and New Mexico — are blue states. However, the remaining two — Arizona and Texas — are decidedly red states. Arizona has voted for the Republican candidate in every presidential election since 1948, with the exception of 1996 when it supported Bill Clinton in his re-election bid. Texas has voted for the Republican since 1976 when it went for Jimmy Carter.
In the most recent poll, Clinton leads Trump by five percentage points, and only trails Trump in Texas by 3 points — well within the margin of error.
Arizona, in particular, has been the subject of great attention recently, in part because of the fact that Clinton is trending strongly, but also because some internal issues, among them, the increasing percentage of the Latino population that has registered to vote over the past few elections, and some local and statewide races.
Aside from Senator John McCain, perhaps the best known elected official in Arizona is Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He is running for his 7th re-election, and a poll released on Thursday shows him trailing his Democratic challenger by 15 points.
John McCain is running for re-election as well. He endorsed the Republican nominee despite Trump’s comments last year that McCain was not a war hero because he was captured. He did not withdraw his support for Trump even after he went after a Gold Star family for weeks during the summer. However, when the ‘Access Hollywood’ recording of Trump making extremely lewd comments emerged earlier in October, McCain finally ‘unendorsed’ the Republican nominee. McCain’s action certainly strongly hints that it was for political gain.
In a Reuters/Ipsos online poll conducted from October 5 to 19, Arizonans were asked regarding the border wall. Asked whether a wall would be “an effective barrier or a waste of money,” 47 percent of residents said that it was a “waste of money” and 34 percent said that it was an “ineffective barrier,” with the rest picking that it was neither. Among Republicans, 21 percent said that it was a “waste of money” while 57 percent said that it was an “effective barrier.”
Most of those polled said that the expectation that Mexico would pay for it was unrealistic, rejecting another of Trump’s central campaign promises.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll is consistent with the Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll which was released on Thursday — the same poll which found Sheriff Joe trailing by double digits. In that poll, 44 percent of Arizonans believed that the wall should “definitely not” be built. This spells substantial trouble for Trump in a must win — and reliably red — state. Significantly, only 13 percent of voters actually supported the building of a wall.
In another ominous sign, the Reuters/Ipsos poll also found lackluster support in a key swing state and another Trump must-win, Florida. Some 41 percent of voters in Florida believed that the wall would be a “waste of money,” while 36 percent thought it would be an “effective barrier.”