Friday, April 30, 2010

Notes on polls

In my previous post, I noted that as 70% of voters in Arizona supported the new immigrant check law, but only 58% of the population was Non-Hispanic White, it was difficult to attribute the results to White racism. It was suggested in comments that possibly the pollsters didn't have a representative sample; perhaps those polled were 85% White. I didn't think it likely; Rasmussen is a respected firm- but I decided I'd check their raw data. I ran into a glitch: the raw data is available, but you have to buy a membership to get it.

Unwilling to spend the money, I looked around and found this very in-depth and fascinating poll from The Pew Hispanic Center It's a couple years old, but in a way, that's better- it's recent enough for the border troubles to be relevant, but not so recent as to be affected by the current political uproar over Arizona.

Some interesting points: "About a quarter of Hispanic adults are unauthorized immigrants, most of them arriving as part of a heavy wave of immigration that began gathering force in the 1970s." That's an astonishing figure right off the bat. Hispanics settled a great deal of what is now the United States; they were the majority non-indigenous peoples in the west and the south, from Florida to California, in the early years of US history. If today a quarter of Hispanic adults are not native born, then illegal immigration, especially in the last couple decades, must have been far greater than most of us in the northern half of the country realized.

That figure also puts an interesting perspective on many of the numbers that follow. For example, on immigration enforcement issues, the report says, "Latinos themselves also have differences on these issues, especially between the foreign born and native born. On all three questions, foreign-born Hispanics are more opposed to the stepped-up enforcement policies than are native-born Hispanics. The breakdown is as follows: 83% of the foreign born do not support active involvement by local police in immigration enforcement, compared with 74% of the native born; 84% of foreign-born Latinos disapprove of workplace raids, compared with 63% of native-born Latinos; and 66% of the foreign born disapprove of states checking immigration status before issuing driver’s licenses, compared with 39% of the native born." Let's break that down a little further: if 74% of the native born do not support active involvement by local police in immigration enforcement, and only 75% of the total are native born, then only 55% of the possible Hispanic voters are opposed.

As these are national numbers, and a couple years old, they would not reflect any new problems occurring in Arizona today. If we took the normal 45% White support for local enforcement with an estimated 40% of possible Hispanic voters, times the local Arizona demographic skew, that's 48% of the possible voters in Arizona who might have been expected to support the new enforcement law in normal times- throw in a crime wave that largely victimizes Hispanics, and it starts to look like Rasmussen's numbers aren't so unbelievable.

Another interesting point is about the perceptions of discrimination. "Asked to choose among four possible causes of discrimination against Hispanics, nearly half (46%) of all respondents say language is the biggest cause; 22% say immigration status; 16% say income and education; and 11% say skin color." I find that interesting because the Hispanic community seems to have a higher opinion of their fellow humanity than UUs do. I'm unaware of any polls on the subject, but my perception is that a clear majority of UUs believes that skin color is the biggest single issue in the minds of White Americans.

Yet another fascinating point is the Hispanic view on the quality of life here. "About seven-in-ten Hispanics describe their quality of life as excellent (26%) or good (45%). Also, 78% of respondents say they are very or somewhat confident that Latino children growing up now in the U.S. will have better jobs and make more money than they themselves have." Again, that seems more upbeat than my perception of UUs, many of whom seem to believe the country is going to Hell in a hand basket, or at least it would if Hell existed.

There's a lot more, too, about the Hispanic views on the right number of immigrants, language, etc- it's a fascinating read, I recommend it.


kinsi said...

Not gonna lie..the line about the UU view of humanity and skin color made me smile a little...

There's got to be an eventual critical mass where enough people call it BS for the denomination to move on to spending that energy on bigger and better things. I think it's a generation thing, hence, why the UUA youth programming is so hyper-Anti-racism, maybe they realize its a generational thing and want to spread their wrong views onward.

Chalicechick said...

(((I'm unaware of any polls on the subject, but my perception is that a clear majority of UUs believes that skin color is the biggest single issue in the minds of White Americans.))))

So if we asked 100 UUs what the biggest single issue in the minds of white Americans was, your perception is that 51 of them would say something like "race"?

Admittedly, if you say "white" as part of the question, that directly raises the issue of race and reminds people of race seconds before they are supposed to answer. But even with that, I'm pretty sure most UUs will say something like "Money," "Getting by," "getting ahead," "providing for their families," "not losing their jobs" or "buying stupid stuff" depending on the outlook of the UU you ask.


Joel Monka said...

I should have been clearer- I meant that UUs would say color is the issue if asked to rate causes of a dispute, like the Hispanics were asked to choose in the poll. For example: why would anyone vote against Obama? A. policies B. skin color.

Chalicechick said...

It is interesting to note that of the choices provided, "skin color" is the only trait that just about all Hispanics share, so if the question is implied to be about all Hispanics, it is the most practical answer.

I see this question as complicated because the issue isn't skin color, it is what stereotype or stereotypes people see when they look at people of that skin color. In that sense, I totally agree with the Hispanics who answered the survey. When an employer looks at a resume and sees the name "Ana Perez" across the top and decides not to call her, the employer likely isn't thinking "Oh, but what if she has brown skin?" he's thinking of something like "what if she doesn't speak a lot of English or has an accent?"

But I don't think the theoretical UUs who select "skin color" are wrong either in that they don't see how the question of language can be fully divorced from the question of ethnicity and attempts to try just seem pretextual. It's like how at one point some employers tried arguing that they weren't discriminating against women, they were discriminating against persons who could potentially become pregnant.


Elz said...

Now that besbol is back on tv, I've noticed you can't tell what language a black ball player is going to speak, and you can't tell what color a Hispanic player is going to be.

Chalicechick said...

Fair enough, but still...