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.