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In Preponderance of Polls, Americans Support Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants

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Reuters/Ipsos Online Poll an Outlier

As we’ve said before, pro-citizenship and common sense immigration reform stances are the mainstream in the immigration debate—an argument bolstered by a range of national polling, including two new polls out today.

According to separate surveys by both Bloomberg and the Pew Research Center, public support for immigration that includes a pathway to citizenship remains vast and strong.  According to Bloomberg, “Fifty-three percent of Americans support a path to citizenship while 18 percent back a process toward legal status for illegal residents already in the country if certain conditions are met…Only 23 percent would deny any path to legal status for immigrants who entered the country illegally.”

Similarly, the Pew Research Center found that the public supports a path to citizenship by a 72%-24% margin, while among potential Republican-voting political typology groups the pollsters identified, Libertarians supported the path to citizenship option by a 66%-32% margin and Main Street Republicans by a 58%-39% margin, while Staunch Conservatives were split at 49%-49%.

Meanwhile, today we came across a Reuters/Ipsos poll – conducted online – that finds the nearly opposite results from the others.  Writes Rachelle Younglai of Reuters: “Thirty percent of those polled think that most illegal immigrants, with some exceptions, should be deported, while 23 percent believe all illegal immigrants should be deported.  Only 5 percent believe all illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the United States legally, and 31 percent want most illegal immigrants to stay.”

How could the results be so different?  For one, it’s methodology is highly suspect.  As Nate Silver of the New York Times’ “Five Thirty Eight” blog points out, “The central challenge that Internet polls face is in collecting a random sample, which is the sine qua non of a scientific survey.  There is no centralized database of e-mail addresses, nor any other method to ‘ping’ someone at random to invite them to participate in an online poll.  Many people have several e-mail addresses, while about 20 percent of Americans still do not go online at all… My view is that online polls should be regarded as ‘guilty until proven innocent.”  In reference to another Ipsos outlier, he wrote: “when a poll produces what appears to be an outlying result, as the recent Ipsos poll of South Carolina did, reporters and analysts should treat it with suspicion and consider whether the discrepancies are explained by questionable methodology.  Too often these outlier polls receive more attention precisely because their results are surprising or unexpected, but they usually deserve less.”

We couldn’t agree more.

America’s Voice Education Fund — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform