April 17, 2006

Rigging Polls on Immigration

My new VDARE column: Predetermined Polling Results on Amnesty

For decades, voter surveys have consistently shown that the public is outraged by the extent of illegal immigration. For example, in a CBS News poll last October, 75 percent said the government was “not doing enough” to keep out illegal aliens, while 15 percent were satisfied and merely 4 percent thought efforts were too restrictive.

Obviously, this is not a satisfactory result from the point of view of the Open Borders/Cheap Labor/Reconquista coalition. Fortunately for them, when it comes to specific mechanisms for enforcing this broad consensus, there is ample room to confuse and mislead the public by torturing the poll questions.

I spent over a decade and a half in the marketing research industry, and I've learned how hard it is to conduct a survey that elicits honest answers on any topic, much less one where the media routinely denigrates one side as "yahoos"...

The liberal Los Angeles Times has gotten a lot of publicity lately for its April 13th poll, which strikes me as a classic example of writing questions to get the responses you wanted. In the marketing research business, you'd lose clients by doing work so shoddy, but this poll suits the Times' agenda.

Let's look in detail at the three proposals offered: ...

Allow undocumented immigrants who have been living and working in the U.S. for a number of years, with no criminal record, to start a path to citizenship.”

Support: 66%

Oppose: 18%

Don't know: 16%

  • You'll note that the word "amnesty" is nowhere mentioned. For over two years now, President Bush has been trying to redefine "amnesty" to mean the only thing about the whole cave-in that he claims he's against: starting illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship. So, this is "amnesty" even by Bush's absurdly narrow definition. But, for some reason, the LA Times forgot to include the word "amnesty" in the proposal.

  • One notorious problem with survey research is that a sizable fraction of respondents try to be nice to pollsters and tell them what they want to hear. Some of the politically savvier participants in the poll will realize that the pollster's use of the euphemism "undocumented" for "illegal" is a dead-certain giveaway that they are supposed to answer "Support".

  • But lots of other respondents aren't terribly familiar with the term "undocumented". They don't realize it means "illegal". They reason: "If the question was about illegal immigrants, well, then it would ask about ‘illegal immigrants.’ And if they were illegal immigrants, they'd, by definition, have a criminal record, right? So, these are innocent people who, apparently, have misplaced some documents. And we don't want to waste time harassing them. It's the illegal immigrants we've got to concentrate on doing something about!"

  • Exactly where do the "undocumented" get to "start a path to citizenship"? Here? Or back home in their native countries? It doesn't say. You know and I know that "start a path to citizenship" is a euphemism for "immediately get the privilege of living in America forever, bring in their spouse and children, and get to start bringing in their siblings and parents, and if they feel like it, they eventually get to vote too." But that's not what it says.

  • The phrase "start a path to citizenship" has been carefully crafted to mislead, to make it sound like the beneficiaries are embarking on some arduous journey of the soul that will mold them into true-blue Americans. And who could be against that? The reality, of course, is quite different.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

No comments: