A new NBC News poll purports to show that people in the South – generally considered to be the most conservative region of the country – are all-in for amnesty. “While Trump’s hardline policies on illegal immigration may appeal to his base, Southerners are in line with the rest of the country on the question of whether undocumented immigrants in the U.S. should be offered a chance to apply for legal status,” states the NBC report.
Except, the poll doesn’t really show that Southerners, or the rest of the country, is really in support of mass amnesty. (Nor is there any substantiation of the assertion that Trump’s policies are “hardline,” but that’s another matter.) What the poll actually shows is that people don’t think mass deportation is the preferred, or exclusive, remedy for dealing with illegal immigration.
The NBC poll, like virtually all polls purporting to show support for amnesty, offers respondents only two choices for address illegal immigration: Amnesty or deportation. Just in case that very limited menu wasn’t not enough to elicit the response the pollsters were looking for, the terminology of the options was carefully chosen. Respondents are asked if “undocumented” immigrants should be “offered a chance for legal status,” or whether they should be “deported to the country they came from.”
Do you want to offer people a chance, or do you want to unceremoniously kick them out? Would you prefer filet mignon, or leftover meatloaf?
NBC News opines that the political views of people in the South are “more nuanced than many might expect.” Ironically, the ability of NBC News to frame poll questions turns out be much less nuanced than one might expect. If NBC really wanted to gauge how people think the nation should address illegal immigration, their pollsters should have given respondents a fuller – dare we say, nuanced – menu of options. But, of course, that was never really NBC’s goal.
Interestingly, NBC News employed the services of the firm Survey Monkey to conduct this poll. Judging by the questions they asked, one has to wonder if an actual monkey could have done a better job.