New Pennsylvania Poll and GOTV Efforts Show the Backlash to the GOP Immigration Playbook

View poll findings

A recording of the call is available here

PENNSYLVANIA - President Trump made immigration the focal point of the midterms and made clear that he believed “it is going to be an election about the caravan.” Today, the Immigration Hub released a new poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, of Pennsylvania voters, revealing voter backlash against President Trump and Republican candidates’ immigration rhetoric and policies.

Similar to voters across the nation, the survey found that a majority of Pennsylvania voters were not galvanized or convinced by rhetoric on the caravan or sanctuary cities. In fact, Trump’s immigration playbook, echoed by Lou Barletta, Scott Wagner and John Chrin, failed to work in favor of the candidates. Senator Bob Casey, a pro-immigrant candidate, had an impressive showing, winning back Obama-Trump counties and exceeding past performances in the Pittsburgh market.

“New polling we conducted in the immediate aftermath of the election shows that Trump’s anti-immigrant focus backfired with voters in Pennsylvania,” stated Nick Gourevitch, Partner at Global Strategy Group. “Voters found that Republican candidate alignment with Trump on immigration was more of a reason to vote against those candidates than to vote for them, including with politically important groups like voters in Pennsylvania who voted for Trump in 2016 and shifted to Bob Casey in 2018.”

The Immigration Hub, along with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), also commissioned an additional survey of nearly 2,000 registered Pennsylvania voters, polling their views on gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner’s ad, “Caravan”. The results show that Wagner’s ad failed to mobilize the majority of Pennsylvania voters to support Wagner, and in some cases even backfired by increasing turnout intentions of one of the most coveted Pennsylvania voting bloc - female voters, both liberal-leaning and moderate women. In fact, 62% of moderate suburban female voters did not support Scott Wagner’s ad.

“Trump made this election about immigration and the caravan, and it backfired for the Republican Party,” adds Tyler Moran, Director of the Immigration Hub. “By large margins, Trump candidates lost, including Pennsylvania's own Barletta, Wagner, Chrin and Rothfus. What does this mean for the GOP? They should expect oversight and a progressive legislative agenda in 2019, including a solution for Dreamers and TPS-holders.  And if they want to win elections in the future, they should listen to voters who want bipartisan solutions and not use scare tactics that divide and distract the electorate.”

Key Findings from the Exit Poll

The survey conducted by Global Strategy Group polled 804 voters. An additional oversample was conducted in the outer Pittsburgh DMA (counties in the market aside from Allegheny County) to reach 206 total voters in this region.

  • Barletta’s Trumpian immigration positions were a net negative, overall and among Casey-Trump voters: 46% of voters believed that Barletta’s similarities to Trump on immigration were a reason to vote against him, while only 37% saw this as a positive for Barletta.

  • Pennsylvania voters found Barletta’s anti-immigrant platform more concerning than the Republican rhetoric of aligning Casey with sanctuary cities and open borders, by a margin of 48% to 37%. The margin among Casey-Trump voters was even wider, at 52% to 32%.

  • 58% of overall Pennsylvania voters were in clear opposition to Trump’s zero-tolerance policy at the border, including 60% of Casey-Trump voters who opposed the policy.

  • President Trump was a major presence on the minds of Pennsylvania voters, which hurt the GOP: 57% considered Trump a major factor in their vote for U.S. Senate.

View the full presentation of results.

Below are quotes from the speakers on our call:

Silas Russell, Vice President & Political Director, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, said, “Together with the other 40,000 members of SEIU, we knocked over 300,000 doors, made tens of thousands of phone calls and text messages that reflected the real life concerns of voters and all working people - and rejected the divisive politics of people like Lou Barletta and Scott Wagner. Across the board, we focused our conversation on what we need to do as working people to unite for good union jobs, quality healthcare, and safe staffing, instead of allowing the greedy few and their politicians like Scott Wagner to divide us. Candidates like Governor Wolf and Senator Casey won historic and convincing victories, because they stand with all working people to unite for a truly free Pennsylvania where everyone can succeed, regardless of where they come from or how much money they have.”

Ashleigh Strange, Communications  Director, Make the Road Action Pennsylvania, said, “The Latino population in Pennsylvania  is one million strong and at the polls last Tuesday they showed that the vitriol and hate that came from the Campaigns of Scott Wagner and Lou Barletta won’t be tolerated in this state. Our members will continue to hold our new and remaining elected officials accountable on all of the issues that matter to keep our Latino and immigrant community safe and healthy.”

Yaheiry Galan, Director, CASA in Action PA, said, “We had many individuals voting for the very first time, who had had enough, and who realized that these were difficult times for them and their children. That's why the Tenth Congressional District became one of the most competitive races. The Latino and immigrant community made the difference, because we organized. Witness the TPS community, which  came together, because even though they knew they couldn't vote, they knew they could mobilize others. This victory didn't just happen by accident, but because the community got together to refute and fight back against the anti-immigrant rhetoric.”


The Immigration Hub is a national organization dedicated to providing strategic support to a broad spectrum of organizations seeking to enact progressive immigration policies at the federal and state level.