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Poll: immigration has become the No. 1 issue for voters in 2018

A new Pew poll finds immigration has overtaken health care and the economy as a top 2018 issue.

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Democrats have been hammering home two issues in particular ahead of the 2018 midterms: jobs and health care.

But between the recent outrage over the Trump administration’s family separation policy and House Republicans taking up a comprehensive bill aimed at fixing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, one new poll finds that voters thinking about 2018 care most about immigration.

Out of 2,002 Republican and Democratic adults (including 1,608 registered voters) surveyed by the Pew Research Center from June 5 to 12, immigration emerged as the top issue they most wanted to hear 2018 candidates talk about. In fact, about one in five voters mentioned immigration — more than mentioned either health care or the economy.

Republican voters or those who lean Republican were slightly more likely to mention immigration as their most important issue than their Democratic counterparts; 21 percent of Republicans mentioned immigration as their top issue, compared to 18 percent of Democrats.

Health care was the next most important priority for Democratic voters, while Republicans were focused on the economy and economic issues. Democratic voters were twice as likely as Republicans to mention health care as a key issue.

Americans tend to vote pretty reliably on the economy, but polls leading up to the 2018 midterms have been all over the map with voter issues. In May, a Morning Consult poll found that while the majority of registered voters identified the economy as their top priority in 2018, Republican voters were more likely to say they were concerned about national security.

And the Pew poll was conducted just as the family separation issue was starting to blow up, which shows that voters are responsive to the Trump administration’s most controversial policies.

However, Democrats have been clear their first priority will be jobs and advancing legislation to put people back to work. Even with low unemployment numbers, Democrats have been hammering home points about raising wages and providing job training for more people. House and Senate Democrats unveiled a platform called A Better Deal, which focuses largely on increasing the minimum wage, putting a dent in rising income inequality, and solving the crisis of unaffordable housing.

But such focus on jobs could mean that immigration legislation gets pushed to the side again, even if Democrats are able to retake the House in 2018. Voters may not be happy if interest in immigration issues remains high through the fall.