The Border Make or Break Election

Dr. Munr Kazmir
5 min readFeb 20, 2024

The border crisis is set to make or break candidates this election cycle.

Photo by ev on Unsplash.

The Pollster Getting Under Democrats’ Skin,” wrote Ryan Lizza for Politico on January 27, 2024. “The man producing those polls is Mark Penn, best known for two things: his devotion to centrist politics and his longtime role as the top pollster and strategist for Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

“I think now their strategy is: We’re losing the top issues, so we’re going to draw the line with Trump and we’re going to make the campaign about Trump and not us,” Penn said. “And we’re going to say: ‘Do you want Trump or do you want four more years of reasonable Democratic rule?’”

“I don’t think that’s a bad strategic choice,” mused Penn. “I’d always like to see more issues, more agenda, more clarity. I think politics in general is just too negative. But as a strategy now, hey, it worked twice. They’re hitting that strategy hard.”

One flaw in that strategy: 2024 is not 2020. 2024 isn’t 2022, either.

Many things have changed since 2022; many more since 2020 — and not exactly for the better. A new/old issue is coming into play: The U.S. Southern border crisis.

Long dismissed as a right-wing conspiracy theory, the border has jumped to the fore over the past year, in particular, thanks to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s new policy of busing newly arrived border-crossers from overwhelmed border communities to cities that have declared themselves “Sanctuary Cities” — municipalities which have limited or restricted cooperation with immigration and deportation authorities.

Asked about the outsize role the border crisis is coming to play in the upcoming election, Mark Penn had this to say:

“So we ask voters: Name your top three issues. And for the very first time, in this month’s Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, immigration came up as the number one issue in the country. That just has never been the case. There was once a time when crime was the most important issue, maybe in the 80s, early 90s. Never was there a time that I can recall when immigration was number one, displacing the economy.”

Worse, perhaps, for Democratic Party prospects this November, is what deeper polling reveals about this topic and prevailing attitudes…