Friday, August 01, 2008

The recent Gallup poll on immigration

Have 9/11, the experience of mass immigration, and restrictionist advocacy shaken up public opinion on immigration? Gallup recently polled 1,975 Americans. As you can see in the chart above, anti-immigration sentiment shot up right after 9/11: the percent favoring less immigration went up almost 20 points. Well, you can see that 100% of that gain has been lost.

And the percent of idiots wanting more immigration increased from 8% in 2002 to 18% now.

And notice how 9/11 was not the high point of anti-immigration sentiment. As the report indicates: "In the mid-1990s, roughly two in three Americans wanted to see less immigration during a backlash against immigrants symbolized by California's Proposition 187, which denied government benefits to illegal immigrants." That number is down TWENTY-SIX points. I don't know about you, but I'm not smiling.

I imagine that many who want more people coming in are immigrants who hope to bring cousin Jesus over. (28% of Hispanics want more immigration. In an earlier analysis of mine using GSS data, the number is much higher if they are asked about increasing Hispanic immigration).

Not very many Americans now think that the issue of illegals is serious either: "... just 27% of Americans said illegal immigration would be an extremely important issue to their vote for president this year, ranking it dead last of eight issues tested." (The rest of the numbers I discuss are not in the graph).

More people now think that immigrants take low-paying jobs that Americans don't want--a stunning 79%--than they did two years ago (74%).

Whites and Hispanics look at the costs of immigration very differently: only 30% of Hispanics think immigrants cost taxpayers too much, compared to 71% of whites.

And if you assume that moderates are just like conservatives on immigration, you're wrong. Twice as many want immigration increased (22% vs. 12%). It is clear now (and always was) that McCain is not going to win over Hispanic voters, and I suspect that moderates at the end of the day don't give a crap about the issue, so if McCain wants votes, he needs to flip-flop right on this issue.

It looks to me like the anti-illegal fervor we've witnessed in the past couple years might not be some kind of widespread movement, but is around the 30% of Americans (mostly white and a small number of blacks, I'm sure) who say that, on the whole, immigration is a bad thing.

If restrictionists are going to win on this issue, they have their work cut out for them.


  1. On the bright side, it looks like there are two big groups, one of them containing two small groups, for a total of three:

    1a) Decrease immigration.

    1b) Keep it the same.

    2) More immigration

    Whenever 1a goes up, 1b goes down, and vice versa, while 2's trajectory seems independent. So, it's far easier for fence-sitters to stand on the decrease rather than increase side.

    I wonder which prong of attack would be more successful: debunking the lie about "jobs Americans won't do," or emphasizing the burden of illegals on society (no taxes, hospitals closing the ER, etc.).

    The first gets at the preservation instinct -- "Hey, they're taking jobs that you *could* do, if the wages were right."

    The second gets at the instinct to resist parasitism.

    Frankly, it's the parasitism that's the real danger -- I couldn't care less if illegals were paid what Americans would accept, and therefore wouldn't be taking jobs Americans wouldn't do. It's the larger burden that matters.

    Unfortunately, it's hard to talk about that even with fence-sitters, since calling a group of people parasites is, in their mind, one step away from pushing for another Holocaust. It's stupid, of course, but that's the association they'll make.

    So, perhaps debunking the "jobs Americans won't do" thing is better -- would also allow you to team up with labor-minded folks (not the leaders) more easily, especially as the economy slides into the shitter for awhile. And you can't be attacked by the loonies-with-megaphones brigade, the way you could if you showed how parasitic the illegal peasant class is.

  2. Anonymous5:37 PM

    Do you believe this Gallup poll was conducted in such a way as to recieve a predetermined result.

    People where I live are almost uniform in wanting to decrease immigration. The numbers certainly dont seem to speak for them.

  3. Rampant population growth threatens our economy and quality of life. Immigration, both legal and illegal, are fueling this growth.

    I'm not talking just about the obvious problems that we see in the news - growing dependence on foreign oil, carbon emissions, soaring commodity prices, environmental degradation, etc. I'm talking about the effect upon rising unemployment and poverty in America.

    I should introduce myself. I am the author of a book titled "Five Short Blasts: A New Economic Theory Exposes The Fatal Flaw in Globalization and Its Consequences for America." To make a long story short, my theory is that, as population density rises beyond some optimum level, per capita consumption of products begins to decline out of the need to conserve space. People who live in crowded conditions simply don’t have enough space to use and store many products. This declining per capita consumption, in the face of rising productivity (per capita output, which always rises), inevitably yields rising unemployment and poverty.

    This theory has huge implications for U.S. policy toward population management, especially immigration policy. Our policies of encouraging high rates of immigration are rooted in the belief of economists that population growth is a good thing, fueling economic growth. Through most of human history, the interests of the common good and business (corporations) were both well-served by continuing population growth. For the common good, we needed more workers to man our factories, producing the goods needed for a high standard of living. This population growth translated into sales volume growth for corporations. Both were happy.

    But, once an optimum population density is breached, their interests diverge. It is in the best interest of the common good to stabilize the population, avoiding an erosion of our quality of life through high unemployment and poverty. However, it is still in the interest of corporations to fuel population growth because, even though per capita consumption goes into decline, total consumption still increases. We now find ourselves in the position of having corporations and economists influencing public policy in a direction that is not in the best interest of the common good.

    The U.N. ranks the U.S. with eight other countries - India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, Ethiopia and China - as accounting for fully half of the world’s population growth by 2050. The U.S. is the only developed country still experiencing third world-like population growth, most of which is due to immigration. It's absolutely imperative that our population be stabilized, and that's impossible without dramatically reining in immigration, both legal and illegal.

    If you’re interested in learning more about this important new economic theory, I invite you to visit my web site at where you can read the preface for free, join in my blog discussion and, of course, purchase the book if you like. (It's also available at

    Please forgive the somewhat spammish nature of the previous paragraph. I just don't know how else to inject this new perspective into the immigration debate without drawing attention to the book that explains the theory.

    Pete Murphy
    Author, "Five Short Blasts"

  4. One cause of the growth of the belief that immigrants do jobs that "Americans Won't Do" is probably the incessant propaganda from the educational and ethnic-based groups on getting a college education so you can get a good job.

    That cuts out any job except one pushing paper, including good jobs in the skilled trades. So no one who goes through the US educational system is suitable, leaving only immigrants.

    We need to publicize the wages of skilled jobs, and emphasize continuing education for its own sake, as used to be a common theme in our society ... a cultured working man. Benefits must include a substantial vacation.

    And, of course, we need to restrict immigration so that even those not bright enough for a skilled trade can make a good living in unskilled jobs since labor will be scarce if immigration is restricted.

  5. c.o. jones2:03 PM

    Who paid for the study? Gallup doesn't conduct opinion polls just for the fun of it, or just because it's what they do. Someone wants this data, and is paying for it, which means they also likely have an agenda that they expect the polling results to bolster. If they get back a poll that shows a negative result, they'll definitely pay attention to it, but it will not see the light of day.


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