Concern for Immigration Increases Six Points in the Past Month, Driven by Northeastern Voters

The October Emerson College Polling national survey of a potential 2024 presidential election finds former President Trump with 47% support, and President Biden with 45%. Eight percent of voters are undecided. Since last month, Biden has held his 45% of support, while Trump’s support has increased by two percentage points. Voters were also asked hypothetical matchups of Bernie Sanders and former President Trump, and Mitt Romney and President Biden. Trump leads Sanders 48% to 40%, with 12% undecided, and Biden leads Romney 40% to 30%, with 29% undecided.

“While the poll reflects voters under 30 breaking for Biden by significant margins in 2020, 45% of voters under 30 support Trump in 2024 in this survey while 43% support Biden,” Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, said. “These voters are most likely to be undecided among all age groups, at 12%. Even with progressive candidate Bernie Sanders on the ballot, the election is statistically similar among this group, 45% supporting Sanders and 42% Trump. The impact of Trump on younger voters is better seen in the Romney v. Biden ballot test where Biden leads 50% to 24% among voters under 30, more reflective of Biden’s 2020 support.”

In the 2024 Republican primary, Trump holds his base of support since last month at 59%. No other candidate reaches double digits at the national level: 8% support Haley, 8% DeSantis, 4% Chris Christie, 3% Mike Pence, and 3% Ramaswamy. Ten percent are undecided. Since last month, DeSantis’ and Ramaswamy’s support decreased four points from 12% and 7%, respectively, while Haley’s support increased five points nationally from 3% to 8%. 

The majority of Democratic Primary voters (70%) support President Biden as the Democratic nominee, while 10% support Marianne Williamson, and 20% are undecided.

Forty-one percent of voters rate President Biden’s handling of the situation in Israel as excellent (18%) or good (23%), while 24% rate his handling of Israel as fair, and 36% rate it as poor. The President holds a 42% approval rating, while 50% disapprove of the job he is doing in the Oval Office. Since last month, the president’s approval has increased by one point while his disapproval rating has increased by three. 

Kimball noted the differences in perception of Biden’s handling in Israel according to political affiliation: “67% of Democrats rate the president’s handling as excellent or good, 23% rate it as fair, and 10% rate it as poor. A majority, 60%, of Republicans (60%) rate Biden’s handling of Israel as poor, while 22% rate it as fair, and 19% as good or excellent. Independents are more split: 40% rate his handling as poor, 26% as fair, and 34% as good or excellent.”

Voters were asked if they think the policies of President Biden have made the United States a safer place than the policies of former President Trump, a less safe place, or about as safe as the policies of Trump. Forty-three percent think Biden’s policies make the U.S. less safe, 41% think they make the U.S. more safe, and 16% think it is about the same. 

Regarding what voters feel is the most important issue facing the United States, the economy remains the top issue at 35%, but has lowered five points since last month’s survey from 40%. Concern for immigration as the most important issue facing the nation has increased six points in the past month, from 10% to 16%. Issues that follow include “threats to democracy” (13%), healthcare (9%), crime (8%), and education (7%). 

“While concern over immigration has grown across all regions of the country since September, Northeastern voters rank the issue highest, with 19% naming it the most important issue facing the country,” Matt Taglia, Senior Director of Emerson College Polling, said. “Among all voters who say immigration is their top issue, 79% plan to support Trump in the Presidential election, and just 14% support Biden.” 

A plurality of voters (46%) say they are worse off financially today than they were a year ago, while 28% say they are better off, and 26% say they are about the same or have noticed no difference. 

“As educational attainment increases, the share of voters doing worse off financially than a year ago decreases: from 52% of those whose highest degree of education is high school or less doing worse off financially than a year ago, to 36% of postgraduates who say the same,” Kimball said.

Voters were asked who they think is responsible for the current condition of the U.S. economy: President Biden or former President Trump. Fifty-eight percent see Biden as responsible, and 28% see Trump as responsible. Fourteen percent are unsure. 

“Of those who say they hold Biden responsible for the economy, 58% said they are worse off financially than they were a year ago with 23% saying they are better off,” Kimball said. “Of those who hold Trump responsible for the current economy, 39% reported being better off financially, while 27% said they were worse off.”


The Emerson College Polling national survey was conducted October 16-17, 2023. The sample of registered voters, n=1,578, has a credibility interval, similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE), of +/- 2.4 percentage points.  The data sets were weighted by gender, education, race, age, party affiliation, and region based on 2024 registration modeling. Turnout modeling is based on US Census parameters, and US voter registration data. 

It is important to remember that subsets based on demographics, such as gender, age, education, and race/ethnicity, carry with them higher credibility intervals, as the sample size is reduced. Survey results should be understood within the poll’s range of scores, and understand with a confidence interval of 95% a poll will fall outside the range of scores 1 in 20 times.

Data was collected by contacting an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines and an online panel of voters.

All questions asked in this survey with exact wording, along with full results, demographics, and cross tabulations can be found under “Full Results.”