STUDY: Does Trump Need To Worry About Losing His Base Over Immigration? Not Really.

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So, if President Trump embraces amnesty, how many Republicans will follow him?

Despite the focus of the chattering class on loud and proud immigration hawk commentators, the evidence suggests that Trump may experience little or no serious blowback from his own voters. That’s because many voters tend to follow the leader — they tend to trust the guy they voted for — and they’ll shift their views to fit his. That willingness varies issue by issue, but it happens to be particularly strong on immigration.

According to a new study from Michael Barber and Jeremy Pope at Brigham Young University, “there are a large number of party loyalists in the United States … their claims to being a self-defined ‘conservative’ are suspect … group loyalty is the much more profound motivator of opinion than are any ideological principles.”

Barber and Pope found that “liberal cues from Trump moved Republicans in a liberal direction more so than conservative cues from Trump moved Republicans in a conservative direction.” How big was the effect? More than 15% in a liberal direction due to a Trump cue, and ten points in a conservative direction due to a Trump cue. Congressional Republican cues had no serious impact among Republicans.

Which issues were Trump voters most flexible on? According to the study, immigration is the top issue on which voters move their opinions to reflect Trump. Next is climate change, followed by the Iran agreement. The least likely issues to see a shift based on Trump’s shifts: guns and abortion.

Which makes sense, since those two issues are the nearest and dearest to most conservatives. But it does show that Trump doesn’t have to worry too much about losing his base by shifting on immigration, despite the outcry from his support base. Look for Trump to continue moving the party in his direction rather than the other way around.


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