March 8, 2017

In Republicans’ views of a border wall, proximity to Mexico matters

Republicans overwhelmingly favor the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. But Republicans who live closer to the border are less likely to support the wall than are those who live farther away.

A survey last month by Pew Research Center found that 35% of the public favored building a wall along the entire U.S-Mexican border, while 62% were opposed. Nearly three-quarters of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (74%) supported building the wall, compared with just 8% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

A new analysis of this data finds that 63% of Republicans who live less than 350 miles from the border support building the wall, compared with 34% who oppose the wall. Those who live at least 350 miles away from the border, by contrast, are more supportive of the wall (76% favor, 21% oppose).

This difference in the level of support for the wall is most pronounced among those who live 200 miles or less from the border, based on a further analysis of data from multiple surveys conducted over the course of 2016 and 2017. (The sample sizes in a single survey are not large enough to look at distances of less than 350 miles from the border.)

Democratic opposition to the wall is overwhelming, both among Democrats who live less than 350 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border (83% oppose) and those who live farther away (90% oppose).

Republicans and Republican leaners who live closer are less supportive of constructing a wall than those who live farther away, even when controlling for demographic differences that may be associated with distance from the border (age, sex, race and ethnicity, and education).

This analysis of geographic support for the construction of a border wall uses respondents’ self-reported ZIP codes, as well as ZIP code data from the U.S. Census Bureau. It uses the geographic center of the ZIP code to determine respondents’ distance from the Mexico border.

Topics: U.S. Political Parties, Immigration Attitudes, Population Geography, North America, Political Issue Priorities, Mexico

  1. Photo of Bradley Jones

    is a research associate focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.


  1. Anonymous5 months ago

    Ku Shaan makes an excellent point, totally missed by both Anonymous and Anonymous. Living near the border factors oppositely for Democrats and Republicans. Republicans near the border are less likely to support the wall than Republicans living far. Conversely, Democrats are more likely to support the wall if they live near the border than those who live far from the border.

    1. Larry Linn4 months ago

      Mexico is the third largest trading partner of the United States, for both imports and exports. Hence the economic considerations.

  2. Anonymous5 months ago

    dont let trump build a wall it will c ause a war between hispanics and americans

  3. Anonymous5 months ago

    That is because the closer you get to the border, the higher the percentage of illegals who do not want to see a wall impede their ability to bring friends and family over (also illegally).

  4. Anonymous5 months ago

    What explanation is there as to why Democrats are more likely to favor the wall the closer they are to Mexico? The higher support is small, but seems to be outside the margin of error.

  5. Kuu Shaan5 months ago

    Most probably, because those who are close to the U.S.-Mexico border have a front-seat view of illegal immigration realities: immigrants are looking for better life prospects; most of them would qualify as trespassers performing misdemeanors, instead of the drug-dealing, gun-toting criminals portrayed in the media.

    Also because wether we like it or not, a wall will not stop immigration nor illegal drugs; only improving security through increased manpower and technology it will be possible to make the border less porous.

    1. Anonymous5 months ago

      Improving employment opportunities in Mexico is probably the best way to reduce immigration.