The Immigration Law Popularity Contest

July 19th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

By Denise Tessier

In its sole editorial for the day, the Albuquerque Sunday Journal made some good points about the need for immigration reform at the federal level.

But the piece, entitled “Thank Arizona for Immigration Debate,” strained credibility (and no doubt, lost some readers) with the snide attitude of its opening sentence, which said:

President Obama is right to call on Congress to take up the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, even if his hand was forced by Arizona’s passage of a law that’s more popular with voters nationwide than he is.

OK, technically, the editorial’s popularity contest assertion could be considered correct, based on two recent polls.

A CBS News Poll released July 13 put nationwide support for Arizona’s immigration law at 57 percent.

And I’m guessing the Journal is squaring this figure against a Bloomberg News poll, the topic of a Bloomberg News story the Journal ran July 15, which showed nearly two-thirds of Americans think the nation in headed in the wrong direction, but which also reported 52 percent of Americans give Obama a positive job approval rating.

Here’s what the Bloomberg story said:

The public’s disenchantment with the president’s policies doesn’t extend to voter feelings about Obama himself, as he gets a job approval rating of 52 percent and personally is viewed favorably by 55 percent. Obama, 48, remains more popular than any of the Republican figures tested in the poll and is topped only by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and General David Petraeus, the new commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, among a list of 15 people and political parties reviewed.

So, the Journal is saying Arizona’s immigration law is more popular than Obama based on a 2 percent poll difference – at most, a difference of 5 percent? And we all know there’s a margin of error disclaimer in most poll results, which says accuracy can go up or down a couple of points either way.

What’s also catty about this “more popular than” editorial position is that it also discounts the views of Latino voters. Certainly, the Arizona immigration law has Hispanic supporters. (New Mexico gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez is an obvious example.) But another story in the July 15 Albuquerque Journal headlined “Concern Over Immigration Reform Rises,” quotes Rosa Rosales, president of the League of Latin American Citizens, as saying 82 percent of Latinos responding to LULAC’s poll (done in conjunction with the Hispanic Federation) disapprove of the Arizona law.

These are the citizens likely most affected by Arizona’s law, which allows police to question anyone about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally, and which makes it a state crime if they are. And this group makes up nearly half of New Mexico’s citizenry – and a good portion of the Journal’s own readership.

So, 82 percent of Latinos oppose the law, 57 of Americans overall support it and 55 percent of Americans like Obama – according to three different polls.

And the Journal waters down its editorial advocating immigration reform by injecting it with popularity contest trivia designed solely to make the president look bad.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Roland

    What I find so consistently grotesque about the ABQ Journal is how it flatters itself with the delusion that it is impartial and non-partisan (it brazenly states on the editorial page that it is an “independent” newspaper. Yet any reader with a modicum of impartiality quickly concludes that the Journal is a propaganda mill for the Republican party. The Journal’s so-called “independence” is really nothing more than a smoke-screen to lend its biases the gravitas of “objectivity.” Often the biases do not reside in the story itself (which, after all, are usually parroted from the AP news service), but rather in how the editors package the news item. In this case, their bias sticks out in the story’s title. “We can thank Arizona for the immigration debate” is a classic example of how the title says more than the story itself.

  • Michelle Meaders

    Maybe “independent” just means that it is home owned, and isn’t part of a chain. The late lamented Albuquerque Tribune was part of the Scripps-Howard chain.

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