Thursday, May 18, 2006

What's with the polls?

From Gallup [registration required]:

President Bush's primetime immigration speech on Monday night was -- intentionally or not -- closely calibrated with what public opinion research shows is the basic structure of the public's views on the issue on immigration. Polling shows that Americans broadly favor four of the basic elements included in Bush's immigration plan: an increase in border security, an increase in personnel manning the border, a program that would allow immigrants to become citizens if they meet a number of specific requirements, and a plan to enforce penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants. When asked to choose between border control and dealing with the illegal immigrants already here, the public tilts towards giving a higher priority to increased border security. All of these points were reflected in the president's speech, suggesting that there will be little controversy concerning his police recommendations from the public's perspective.

The numbers were [in brief]:

62% of the people polled believe we can get control of the immigration problem

74% felt it was most important to control the border

71% felt it was most important to develop a plan to deal with the people here now.

By 52% to 43% people felt it was most important to halt illegal entry.

Only 21% support deporting all illegals and 61% support a road to citizenship.

This is pretty much in line with the CNN poll done the night of the speech which showed 79% approval of Bush's speech and 67% approval of his immigration plan. Zogby on the other hand says the support was split 47% to 47% in support of the Bush plan and Rasmussen says that Bush did badly with only about 39% supporting his plan and a majority supporting an enforcement only plan. hummmmmm.

What is up with this? These polls are not even close. Obviously they can not all be right. Does that mean none of them are?


chuck said...


I suspect this is one of those cases where the poll results are extremely sensitive to the wording of the questions. I haven't seen the questions in the polls cited, so that is just a guess, but otherwise the descrepencies seem way out of line.

I can't say I am terribly interested in polls. Our representatives are pretty sensitive to what their constituents tell them and as a result congress is notably less radical than the blogosphere. Elections remain the best measure. That said, I bet the parties have been polling, and for the polls to be useful they need to be realistic. Effective strategies depend on real data.

Unknown said...


Yes, I am sure you are right. I bet the parties do their own polling, independent of the media.

I just wish people could decide what is and is not amnesty, what is and is not mass deportation. It is as if we are speaking different languages.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


As Rick has pointed out endlessly, the pollsters get the answers they are paid to get. There are many many ways to bias these polls and he has pointed out a few for us.

They don't have any incentive to tell the truth. Don't believe the polls.

loner said...

The issue is complex and fluid and public opinion polls aren't all that much use even when the issue is simple and solid. Where it concerns Bush the only thing of very limited importance now is job approval and Rasmussen was at the high end of the range of polling there anyway.

If his numbers drop across the board, as they did after, for instance, Schiavo, that's a reasonable indication as to the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of his speech(es).

Does any of this matter? You got me.

What does matter? I, with a smile, am calling myself a Clippers fan for the first time ever.

Unknown said...


I love it when you get all enigmatic.

Do you see Capote? I thought it was a great movie.

loner said...


I saw Capote and much as I liked the performances and the look of the movie, I had serious problems with the plot. I have a very high opinion of the book, as opposed to its author, and the liberties the filmmakers took with the history of the case were, in the end, way too egregious for this viewer to overlook.

Unknown said...


I might do a post about this. My grandfather knew the family that was killed, not well but he did know them/ He was one of the gentlest people I ever knew but he could have strung up those men himself.

I had to ask my Dad for permission to read the book when I was in highschool. It created a new genre of true crime book.