Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What Do Republicans Really Think About Illegal Immigration?

A commenter to my post below does not accept the results I cited there of a Tarrance Group poll conducted for the Manhattan Institute. That response reminds me of a bewildered Pauline Kael's famous statement after Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern in a 49-state landslide. She couldn't see how such a thing could happen, and said, "I don't know anyone who voted for Nixon."

I still think liberals like Kael are far more likely than conservatives to live in a silo, in which they are never exposed to a conservative idea; but there are still many conservatives (including pundits of what I call the "angry Ingraham right") who think their views are those of the majority of "the Anerican people." It sometimes turns out, however, that the views of National Review Online, Ingraham, Hannity and others aren't representative of even the majority of Republicans.

Maybe that's why the results of this poll produce disbelief among my fellow conservatives who want to deport all illegals in the USA, or as many as we possibly can. Could it be that like Pauline Kael, they don't know anyone who disagrees with them?

Consider this conclusion from the pollsters:

This new public opinion data indicates that Republican voters do not think it is possible to deport the illegal immigrants already in the country and do not favor an enforcement-only approach often preached by hard-line conservatives. On the contrary, the rank and file want realistic solutions to deal with future immigrants and the millions of undocumented workers already here.

Although hardliners dominate cable television and conservative talk radio with calls to seal the border, the majority of Republican voters believe in sensible, practical immigration reform that includes an earned legalization process and increased border security, according to this new poll.
Here's a summary of the more important numbers:

According to the new poll, 78% of likely Republican voters favor immigration reform that includes increased border security, tougher penalties for employers who hire illegal workers, a policy that allows illegal immigrants to come forward and register for a temporary worker program that eventually placed them on a path to citizenship. Facing a choice between a registration and earned-legalization plan and a plan that includes deportation and enforcement-only, respondents favored the earned legalization plan 58% to 33%. In addition, 67% of respondents indicate they would have a more favorable view of President Bush if he supported an earned legalization reform plan.
Now, I do not think polls are last word on any issue. But this is the only serious evidence I have seen of what Republicans really think about this issue. If there's contrary evidence, I'd like to see it. If you don't accept the poll's results, tell me why, and offer some other evidence of what Republicans really want to see done about immigration.

The way in which immigration hard-liners try to shout down people who disagree with them tends to chill discussion and intimidate those who are in the majority as identified by the Tarrance Group poll. It seems to me that a more tolerant, open discussion is in order.


Anonymous nash said...

My concern was that they are twisting the poll data to achieve the results they want. I can't determine that without knowing what questions they asked.

I did a quick search on google using the words "Manhattan Institute immigration" and this was the second link that came up:

It suggests that my suspicions that the Manhattan Institute may be cooking the numbers is correct. If you find a rebuttal by the Manhattan Institute I'd be interested in reading it. Until then, I don't think their poll is credible and any conclusions based on it is questionable. 

Posted by nash

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 1:39:00 PM  
Blogger The Hedgehog said...

The problem, Nash, is that FAIR is a hard-line anti-immigration group that wants to deport everyone. They're lobbyists, not a think tank. So I tend to take what they say with a grain of salt. 

Posted by The Hedgehog

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 2:15:00 PM  
Anonymous BlueBuffoon said...

Heaven forbid that the American public should be subjected to a complicated introduction to questions about a complicated issue! (TIC) And that makes it a latant "push poll"?

Part of the problem with the "debate" on this issue is the desire of advocates of both extreme positions to reduce a multi-faceted problem to a "factoid" that illicits a predictable response. Of course, this problem is pervasive in American politics today, not just the immigration issue.

As The Hedgehog has repeatedly pointed out, the deport-them-all "solution" is routinely advocated without any discussion of how it should (let alone could) be done, nor any consideration of the unintended consequences of such a policy (which I believe would only deepen the threat to the United States by pushing further underground the illegal immigrant problem and potentially into the "helpful" hands of people with even fewer scruples, and more nefarious intentions toward the United States, than the infamous coyotes and others involved in the problem today.) 

Posted by BlueBuffoon

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 4:28:00 PM  

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