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Adventures in Manipulative Polling



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Brookings has put out the latest example of bogus immigration polling. Here’s the New York Times lede:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans favor giving illegal immigrants in the country an opportunity for legal status with a path to citizenship, according to a poll published Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution. Support for an earned path to citizenship for those immigrants came from 71 percent of Democrats and also a majority, 53 percent, of Republicans, the poll found.

Oh, my. I guess our goose is cooked, the end is near, we’ve reached the tipping point for amnesty.

But, before starting to look for a new job, just for giggles I decided to see what the actual question said. You have to get to p. 53 of the report to find it, and here are the only options offered to respondents:

The best way to solve the country’s illegal immigration problem is to secure our borders and arrest and deport all those who are here illegally

The best way to solve the country’s illegal immigration problem is to both secure our borders and provide an earned path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

You remember the presidential candidate proposing that we “arrest and deport all those who are here illegally,” don’t you? No? That’s because there wasn’t one. And yet almost every establishment poll asks the question this way, contrasting cattle cars full of weeping babies to the option of “earning” status by working hard, paying back taxes, and rescuing stranded kittens.

We did a poll last month with more neutral and honest wording. (I’m afraid it wasn’t featured in the New York Times.) Here’s the wording of our comparable question: “Would you prefer to see illegal immigrants in the United States go back to their home countries or be given legal status?” The results were 52-33 for going back home.



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