Trump Cites Poll In Tweet, But Draws Questionable Conclusions From Its Findings

President Donald Trump speaking at the White House, holding one finger up while taking questions from the press.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

President Donald Trump, on Saturday evening, continued to push for his belief that there needs to be a border wall constructed at the U.S. southern border, citing findings from a national poll to back up his case.

However, the poll’s findings may not match up with the conclusions the president drew from them.

Trump cited an Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs poll conducted in the first half of December that found immigration was a top concern for many Americans. Trump quoted the poll in his tweet, writing that the AP/NORC poll had found that “Immigration [was] among the top concerns in 2019.”

Indeed, the AP/NORC poll did find that the topic of “immigration” was tied for second place among Americans’ top concerns, according to reporting from the Associated Press.

From there, however, Trump made conclusions on his own that the poll itself didn’t actually address.

“People want to stop drugs and criminals at the Border,” Trump wrote. “[They] Want Border Security! Tell the Dems to do the inevitable now, rather than later. The wait is costly and dangerous!”

The poll did not actually question Americans on the desire for a border wall or even the generalized topic of border security.

The poll did include figures on Trump’s approval rating, finding that 42 percent of Americans approved of the job he was doing as president, while 56 percent disapproved.

There are other problems with Trump’s interpretation of the poll. For instance, the topic of “immigration” being a priority encompassed several subtopics within it. Respondents who said the border wall was something they hoped for in 2019 were lumped in with others, who said they hoped action would be taken to help Dreamers achieve citizenship status, for example.

In other words, subtopics that dealt in any way with the broader idea of “immigration” were placed together, and not necessarily indicative of what Trump stated in his tweet.

Other polling, however, has demonstrated just the opposite — a Harvard/CAPS poll from late in December found that 56 percent of Americans didn’t want the border wall constructed, while just 44 percent said that they did. Fifty-eight percent of respondents in that poll also said Trump should end his pursuit of the wall to allow the government shutdown to end. Just 42 percent said Trump “should not give in,” according to reporting from the Hill.

The shutdown crisis began at midnight on December 22 after two bills in Congress, one from the House and one from the Senate, failed to come to a consensus on funding the government. The Senate bill, which was passed first, did not include funding for a border wall and would have kept the government completely running until at least February.

After it passed that chamber, Trump announced he wouldn’t sign any bill without border wall funding, after which point the House passed their version which included more than $5 billion in funds to construct it. The Senate could not pass the bill with that language within it.

The House has since passed a bill without funding for the border wall, after Democrats took control of that chamber on January 3, per reporting from CNN. Trump has vowed to veto that bill if it reaches his desk.