The Lou Dobbs Poll

CNN host Lou Dobbs presented some big news on–wait for it–immigration last night (10/22/09):

New evidence that the American public wants action on the illegal immigration crisis in this country. A new CNN poll finds the vast majority of the American public wants illegal immigration stopped and most want illegal immigrants now in the country to leave–Lisa Sylvester with our report.

The CNN poll isodd; the main question is, “Would you like to see the number of illegal immigrants currently in this country increased, decreased, or remain the same?” 73 percent chose “decreased.” They asked a follow-up to find out if people want the numbers decreased “a little,” “a lot” or if they’d like to seem all of them removed immediately. Thirty-seven percent of the total sample chose the latter option; if that’s what Dobbs meant by “most” people, that’s just inaccurate reporting of his own network’s poll.

Dobbs’ reporter Lisa Sylvester uses the poll to make a bigger political point:

SYLVESTER: But Mark Krikorian with the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors tougher immigration law, says if anything, these polling numbers show that comprehensive immigration reform is going to be a tough sell.

MARK KRIKORIAN: Clearly, it’s not happening any time soon and these poll results really just underline that reality.

SYLVESTER: But President Obama still is insisting and committed to signing a comprehensive immigration bill.

The idea that responses to this poll reveal people’s feelings towards “reform” is a giant leap, since the CNN poll does not seem to have asked about that. Other polls have, though, like an April 9 ABC/Washington Post survey:

Would you support or oppose a program giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements?

Support: 61 percent

Oppose: 31 percent

A CBS/New York Times poll (4/22-26/09)gave three options for dealing with undocumented immigrants:

Stay, Apply for Citizenship: 44 percent

Stay as Guest Workers: 21 percent

Leave: 30 percent

Since all three groups could describe themselves as wanting to see illegal immigration “decreased,” there’s no reason to believe that CNN‘s poll tells us much of anything about the immigration debate. It does, however, give Lou Dobbs something to talk about.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.