Let’s “deal with” this Gallup poll!

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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Paranoids live better: It saves time and confusion, when you are trying to understand MSM polls on immigration, if you start from the premise that they are designed to produce the amnesty the MSM consensus favors. Why, for instance, would Gallup ask voters whether the main focus of immigration policy should be to “deal with immigrants who are currently in the U.S. illegally” (with the alternative being “halting the flow of illegal immigrants”)?

What does it mean to “deal with” illegals who are already here? Who knows? Many voters might think it means punish them, or deport them, or facilitate Mitt Romney’s famous “self-deportation”? Yet in Gallup’s initially inexplicable typology voters who favor such hard-ass solutions somehow get counted on the  pro-amnesty side. If Gallup used clearer language–like saying the idea was to “legalize” or even “normalize” current illegals–then it might look as if a lot fewer people backed the MSM’s program. Aha! Paranoia provides the key to understanding.

It’s certainly the key to understanding the media coverage of the latest version of Gallup’s muddled inquiry. Here’s CNN (Headline–“Public’s immigration priorities changing”):

According to a Gallup survey released Monday, 44% of those surveyed say it’s extremely important for the United States to develop a plan to deal with the large number of undocumented immigrants.

Forty-three percent say the top priority should be beefing up border security to halt the flow of undocumented workers into the country.

That’s a shift from 2011, when Gallup polling indicated border security trumped dealing with immigrants already in the country.

See, they don’t want border security anymore! Well, actually they do (43%) … but, hey, not as much as they used to! And it’s true that if you start in 2011, there is a moderate shift down in the number of people who say “halting the flow’  is “extremely important” (53% to 43%). But if you start in 2006–when George W. Bush’s amnesty plan failed to pass–there’s been no change. (It was 43% back then too.)

More interestingly, things have been going in the opposite direction–in favor of “halting the flow”–for the past year, since mid-2013, if you look at the results when Gallup forces voters to choose one approach over the other. ** Support for “dealing” has fallen 4%; support for “halting’ has risen 5%.  (Again, not that these categories mean anything! Those who want to “halt” also want to “deal,” though maybe in a different way–or a different order.)

In fact, the chart for Gallup’s “forced choice” question (the last graph on the page–hmm) suggests a simple explanation of the distinctly un-epic “shift” it tracks: When Congress starts to talk seriously about actually making immigration policy–in 2006 and 2007, and after the debate on the Senate Gang of 8 bill heated up in 2013–voters shift to prioritize “halting the flow.” Meanwhile, in 2011 and 2012 the focus was on state laws, like Arizona’s SB 1070,  designed to crack down on illegal immigrants already here–and on Romney’s “self-deportation” remark, which also concerned those “currently in the U.S. illegally.” So, duh, more people–hard-ass or no–thought the main focus should be on what people were talking about, namely current illegal residents. It also became clear, during these years, that the flow of undocumented immigrants across the Southern border had slowed.

From this mess, Gallup’s professionals managed to extract a story line guaranteed to find a ready-made audience among reporters and editors who share the amnesty-first Beltway Consensus. Just part of the job!


** — That would seem consistent with other polls showing voter opposition to a “path to citizenship” for illegals rising since 2013–from 24% to 38% in this Quinnipiac poll ( while support held steady at 26-27%). This rising antipathy toward the actual MSM-consensus plan for “dealing” with illegal immigrants that’s being considered seems more significant than whatever “shift” Gallup thinks it is measuring.