Burying the bad news for Obama on immigration?


We Will Bury You? The relative popularity of Obama’s DREAM immigration decree (by 10-15 points in a new Quinnipiac swing state poll) is being called “good news” for the president. But if it’s so popular, then why in the same poll do more voters in all three swing states–Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania–say it makes them less likely rather than more likely to vote for Obama? In Ohio and Pennsylvania about twice as many voters say Obama’s new policy makes them less likely to vote for him than say it makes them more likely  (27% to 11% in Ohio, 27% to 12% in Pennsylvania).

I’m not sure how to reconcile the two sets of numbers (maybe Mystery Pollster or the aptly named Sean Trende can help).  You’d think the contrasting results mean that voters who care about the issue are affected differently than voters who don’t care. That can’t be good news for the president, unless most of 11% who are favorably moved are previously undecided swing voters while the bulk of the 27% who are repelled were all voting against Obama anyway. Are such differentials possible? Maybe–if anti-Obama voters care much more about opposing immigration amnesties than pro-Obama voters care about supporting those policies. A sub issue: How do voters who would never vote for Obama answer the question? Do they say his immigration decision didn’t affect them (since their chance of supporting him was zero anyway)? Or do they say it made them “less likely” on the grounds that it reduced the infinitesimal chance that they’d support him even further, to half an infinitesimal chance? I assume the latter, but does anybody know?

A simpler question is why the Quinnipac people don’t even mention the more likely/less likely question (or the discordant answer) in their otherwise detailed write-up of the poll. If the question means anything, it complicates the “good news for Obama” story. If it doesn’t mean anything, why did they ask it? … Sneaking suspicion: They included it in the 12 questions asked because they were fishing for an answer they didn’t get. …

Update: The crosstabs (available at the bottom of the Quinnipiac write-up) offer support for both the pro-Obama and anti-Obama readings. Yes, GOPs tend to care more about this issue–in Ohio, fully 49% of Republicans said they were now less likely to vote for Obama, while only 20% of Dems said “more likely.” On the other hand, among independents (a category that presumably includes lots of swing voters) “less likely” beat “more likely” by 26% to 10%. In Pennsylvania, it was even more lopsided–32% to 10% in favor of “less likely” among independents. On balance, it’s hard to see that as a political winner for Obama. …

Journalism! Asked for comment Doug Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac poll, responded:

We frequently ask this question about different issues.  Generally, if more than 50 percent say it won’t make a difference that is good reason not to include the result  in the press release.

Except when the issue is gay marriage, not immigration.  Then the result goes in the press release. And the headline: (“Romney Trails Obama By 5 Points In Virginia, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Gay Marriage Has Little Impact On Presidential Race.”)  … Sorry. I googled. It won’t happen again.

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