- Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty Images
- President Donald Trump pushed the US government into a partial shutdown over his demands for border-wall funding.
- Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested some alternative uses for Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion toward the wall.
- INSIDER polled people on alternative uses of the $5.7 billion in border wall funding, and most preferred other ideas, including infrastructure improvements, covering a half-million Americans’ healthcare expenses, and expanded pre-K education.
- The only group that supported the wall was conservatives, while border money came in last for moderates and liberals.
As the partial government shutdown drags on into its record-shattering 29th day, President Donald Trump has remained steadfast in his demands that $5 billion for a wall along the US-Mexico border be included in any package to funding and reopening the government.
But according to an INSIDER poll, most Americans would prefer to put the $5 billion Trump is demanding toward other policy goals.
At the start of the government shutdown, Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lamented House Republicans inclusion of $5.7 billion in border-wall money in their doomed funding package.
“And just like that, GOP discovers $5.7 billion for a wall. $5.7 billion,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “What if we instead added $5.7B in teacher pay? Or replacing water pipes? Or college tuition/prescription refill subsidies? Or green jobs? But notice how no one’s asking the GOP how they’re paying for it.”
In response to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, Washington Post writer Jeff Stein suggested a few alternatives for the $5.7 billion in funding, including funding pre-kindergarten education for every child in the US or covering the healthcare expenses for hundreds of thousands of Americans over the course of the year.
INSIDER polled these alternatives against funding for the wall and found that the wall was not a particularly popular option.
Conducted as a SurveyMonkey Audience poll with 1,025 respondents that ran December 21-22, INSIDER asked respondents, “What is the best use of $5.7 billion in federal funding?” and offered four options:
- “build a portion of a wall along the US-Mexico border”
- “fund pre-kindergarten programs for every child in the US for a year”
- “pay the healthcare expenses for roughly 530,000 Americans for a year”
- “fund infrastructure improvements”
The figures were based on Stein’s estimates for the utility of $5.7 billion in different areas of administration and calculations based on the most healthcare spending data.
Only 19% of respondents thought the wall was the best use of that funding.
The best-polling use of funds was paying healthcare expenses for a half-million people, backed by 36% of respondents.
A further 30% thought infrastructure would most benefit from the funding, while 15% would fund pre-K programs.
Only respondents who identified as conservative thought the wall was an important priority.
- Of those who identified as moderately or very conservative, about 53% wanted the wall, with 22% preferring infrastructure improvements and 16% preferring healthcare.
- Of those who only slightly leaned liberal or conservative or didn’t identify with either political ideology, they vastly preferred healthcare (39%) and infrastructure (32%), then pre-K (16%) and only then the wall (13%).
- Of those who identified as moderately or very liberal, only 2% want to fund the wall, with 49% preferring that spending go to healthcare, 34% on infrastructure and 14% on pre-K.
Overall, 24% of respondents identified as very or moderately conservative, 28% very or moderately liberal, and 36% as neither or slightly liberal or conservative.
It illustrates a key divide on the shutdown: According to this survey, only the core supporters who comprise Trump’s base want the funding for the wall, while the rest of respondents were uninterested in allocating nearly $6 billion to the border partition.
The finding also seems to match up with a previous INSIDER poll, conducted before the start of the shutdown, that found 60% of those surveyed wouldn’t tolerate a shutdown over the wall. Other pollsters found similar results.
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,025 completed respondents December 21-22, margin of error plus or minus 3.12 percentage points with 95% confidence level.