The Corner

More Bogus Polling

The American Jewish Committee has released its annual survey of Jewish opinion, and naturally I turned to the section with the immigration questions (here, with the start page for the whole survey here). Question 25 showed that 79-percent of respondents said illegal immigration was a very serious or somewhat serious problem — no surprise there. But the next question exhibited the kind of myopia that is endemic in establishment polling but nonetheless continues to amaze me:

Which comes closest to your view of what government policy should be towards illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States? Should the government deport all illegal immigrants back to their home country, OR allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States in order to work but only for a limited amount of time, OR allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States and become U.S. citizens but only if they meet certain requirements over a period of time?

What kind of question is that? Of course the two non-mass-deportation options got a combined 81-percent (though 15-percent — one out of six — opted for mass deportation!). But when you offer people the actual alternatives of letting illegals stay (permanent or temporary isn’t really germane, since temporary is permanent) OR causing them to go home over time through better enforcement, the second option — attrition — wins big every time (see here and here). My point is not that I don’t like their results but that the question is like so many others in MSM polling on immigration — loaded and entirely unconnected to reality. And the problem is incompetence, not conspiracy — my research director has actually talked to the people who oversee some of the major newspaper polls and they are without a clue and actually think those are the options, because that’s all they read in the Times and the Post.

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