When it comes to immigration, most Americans have no clue what they’re talking about, a new Business Insider/SurveyMonkey poll has found.
We ran a poll that asked respondents — in this case, American workers in industries that are heavily dependent on either high-skill or low-skill workers — about their feelings about immigration reform.
SurveyMonkey, an online pollster, has enjoyed considerable success in meeting or exceeding the performance of traditional phone-based pollsters.
One question we asked was “Over the past 3 – 5 years, what do you believe about the undocumented immigrant population in the United States?”
The survey of 1,018 respondents found that a whopping 66% of respondents — two in three — believe that the unauthorised immigrant population had increased somewhat or significantly over the past three to five years.
Only around 10% of respondents gave the correct answer: the unauthorised immigrant population had in fact decreased somewhat.
Experts agree that — primarily due to the recession — the undocumented immigrant population in the United States has decreased significantly since its peak in 2007.
This chart from the Pew Hispanic Center shows the estimates: While the U.S. immigrant population has continued to grow, the
undocumentedimmigrant population has seen a marked decline from 12.0 million undocumented immigrants in 2007 to 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in 2011, a roughly 7.5% decrease.
The 22% of respondents who said the undocumented immigrant population has stayed the same can be forgiven as the population only declined a little over the last five years, and for the last three years it’s been flat.
Still, since two out of every three respondents incorrectly believe that the unauthorised immigrant population is growing — when the electorate is by and large just plain wrong on the facts — it’s easy to understand why immigration reform has been such a hard sell.
It’s also easy to understand why members of Congress have been so eager to lard up the immigration bill with border security spending: They’re pandering to an electorate that still thinks illegal immigration is rising.
Here are a few caveats for the data. The remainder of the survey — which we’ll be releasing later this week — looks at the difference in views about immigration between high- and low- skill workers.
As a result, this survey wasn’t sent out to the general population. Instead we targeted workers in 11 different industries: Agriculture, Automotive, Construction, Education, Finance, Food & Beverage, Health care, Manufacturing, Nonprofit, Telecommunications, and Energy.
So it’s possible the survey isn’t totally representative of the general population. It’s also disproportionately male (62%) because of the makeup of the surveyed industries.
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