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CIS-Zogby Polling FAIL: Cooking the Books on Latino Support for Mass Deportation

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RecipeThis week the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the “think tank” of the anti-immigrant lobby, announced the results of a new CIS-sponsored Zogby poll purporting to show that people of color, including Latinos, support their mass-deportation, anti-immigrant agenda.

Coming from the same group whose leader, Mark Krikorian, recently argued that FJudge Sotomayor should change her name to sound more “Anglo,” and who has previously blamed immigrants for global warming, CIS’ viewpoints and strategies are clearly far from mainstream. Still, this latest effort to muddy the waters about public opinion on immigration ventures into the realm of the absurd.

CIS argues that people of color actually prefer enforcement-only approaches over comprehensive immigration reform. They claim that their “poll of Hispanic, Asian-American, and African-American likely voters finds some support for legalization.  But overall each of these groups prefers enforcement and for illegal immigrants to return home.”  The CIS “poll” amazingly found that 52% of Latinos “support enforcement to encourage illegals to go home; 34 percent support conditional legalization.” 

That’s right, CIS has cooked up a plan to try to convince us that a majority of Latinos support the mass deportation of the 12 milllion immigrants living and working in the U.S. without authorization. Half-baked polling and research is nothing new for these folks, after all.

What’s really going on: the questions in the CIS-sponsored Zogby poll are engineered to produce anti-immigration responses and rely solely on input from online respondents, rather than a random sample of the general population (i.e. a true random digit dial telephone poll).  The findings are a dramatic departure from the results of numerous other (credible) polls of Latino voters (see below). 

Here’s a quick Public Service Announcement from FiveThirtyEight.com’s Nate Silver, who has called CIS’ polling firm, Zogby, the “Worst Pollster in the World“:

Zogby International conducts two types of polls. One type are conventional telephone polls. Zogby’s telephone polls, while prone to somewhat wild fluctuations and subject to their share of erratic results (such as predicting a 13-point win for Barack Obama in the California primary; Obama lost by 9 points), are actually not terrible, and did fairly well on November 4th.

Zogby, however, also conducts Internet-based polls. These polls are conducted among users who volunteer to participate in them, first by signing up at the Zogby website (you can do so yourself here) and then by responding to an e-mail solicitation. These Internet polls, to the extent they rely on voluntary participation, violate the most basic precept of survey research, which is that of the random sample. And as you might infer, they obtain absolutely terrible results. 

Onto the real research. A May 2009 poll of Latinos nationwide conducted by Latino Decisions found that:

“…over 80% of Latino voters said they supported Obama’s plan that included increased border security, fines for undocumented immigrants, and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants meeting certain requirements – just 14% of Latinos opposed the president’s plan.