Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The national question, 2014

The following table shows immigration enthusiasm quotients for several different subgroups of respondents in the 2014 iteration of the GSS. The quotient is derived by subtracting the percentages who would like to see the number of immigrants in the US reduced from the percentages who would like to see it increased, with those wanting it to remain unchanged discounted.

Before getting to that, note the full wording of the question: "Do you think the number of immigrants to America nowadays should be: 1) Increased a lot, 2) Increased a little, 3) Remain the same as it is, 4) Reduced a little, or 5) Reduced a lot."

A strictly literal reading insinuates that options 4 and 5 favor deportation, since the question isn't asking about flow rates of immigration but instead about absolute numbers of immigrants in the US. A strictly literal reading also suggests that option 3 indicates a desire to tighten up restrictions on immigration to reduce the number of immigrants coming into the US in the future, and option 2 could be interpreted as contentment with the current situation rather than desirous of an increase in the rate of immigration.

Most people probably interpret the spirit of the question as concerning what should be done in terms of future levels of immigration allowed into the US, without any reference to removal from the country, but to the extent that there is a lack of clarity in the way the question gets answered, it is going to artificially cause the responses to appear to be more in accordance with immigration boosterism than with immigration restrictionism.

Even with the handicap, though, immigration just isn't something Americans are very enthusiastic about (n = 1,100):

Partisan affiliationIEQ
Social class
Upper class(17.3)
Middle class(23.9)
Working class(34.5)
Educational attainment
Bachelor's degree(16.5)
Master's degree(16.8)
Did not complete high school(30.3)
High school graduate(35.1)
Some college(36.0)
Born in the US(35.5)

The only two subgroups with positive IEQs are Asians and foreign-born residents living in the US (read immigrants), and there is of course a lot of overlap in these two categories. Perhaps uniquely among major contemporary political issues, there is a pronounced divide between old (black and white) America on the one hand and new (Asian and Hispanic) America on the other.

Notably, there is a vociferous, sizable minority of elites--30.5% of the 3% of respondents who identified as "upper class"--who support increasing immigration, the highest pro-immigration figure for any of the subgroups except for Asians. These one-percenters are the Koch brothers and the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world.

Parenthetically, the reason the immigration enthusiasm score for the upper class is lower than it is for other categories is because there are a relatively high number of upper class respondents who want immigration reduced as well--the elites aren't fence sitters on the question (or any other question for that matter)!

Too bad that, yet again, there isn't a Republican presidential candidate who reflects the views of most Republican voters when it comes to immigration.

GSS variables used: LETIN1A(1-2)(4-5), PARTYID(0-1)(3)(5-6), RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), CLASS, EDUC(0-11)(12)(13-15)(16-17)(18-20), BORN, SEX, AGE(18-29)(30-44)(45-64)(65-89)


BehindTheLines said...

Walker has not only said he favors reducing illegal immigration, but even mentioned reducing legal immigration. He has been quiet after the usual shrieking, but it's clear how he feels about it. Santorum and Cruz are the only other restrictionist candidates.

I think Bush would be polling better if he had not doubled down as the pro-Mexico candidate. Of course, with his money, he still might win.

If you're doing a subtraction, shouldn't that be the difference instead of the quotient?

I kid. I kid. Nice post.

Anonymous said...

I don't think in the progressives wildest dreams they thought that they could reduce Whites to a minority so quickly.

Anonymous said...

Can you please show the actual percentages for reach question?

Anonymous said...

"Do you think the number of immigrants to America nowadays..."

I think the preposition "to" makes this about immigration flows, not the number of immigrants already in the United States. If it were "in", I'd agree that options 4 and 5 support some kind of deportation policy. Hard to say whether these subtleties get through to the respondents.

Joshua Sinistar said...

I have to wonder just how stupid these elitists really are? If Whites know they are going to be dispossessed why play within the system at all? Are these morons so stupid they believe a mostly brown country will pay enough taxes for this bloated corpse to survive on? Are they just doubling down because they're stupid and have no original ideas? That last one seems to fit better!

Audacious Epigone said...

Increase No change Decrease Immigration enthusiasm
Democrat 18.2 46.2 35.5 -17.3
Independent 13.8 49.8 36.5 -22.7
Republican 9.2 38.8 52.1 -42.9

White 12.9 41.5 45.7 -32.8
Black 12.5 46 41.5 -29
Hispanic 20.4 44.6 35 -14.6
Asian 35.3 55 9.7 25.6

Lower class 13.7 40.5 45.8 -32.1
Working class 10.1 45.3 44.6 -34.5
Middle class 17.1 41.9 41 -23.9
Upper class 30.5 21.7 47.8 -17.3

Less than HS 12.7 44.3 43 -30.3
HS 12.0 41.0 47.1 -35.1
Some college 8.7 46.7 44.7 -36
BA 20.1 43.3 36.6 -16.5
MA/D 25.3 32.6 42.1 -16.8

Natives 12.2 40.1 47.7 -35.5
Immigrants 25.3 56.4 18.3 7

Men 15.8 44.9 39.2 -23.4
Women 12.8 40.6 46.5 -33.7

18-29 19.1 48.7 32.2 -13.1
30-44 13.5 42.8 43.7 -30.2
45-64 13.1 39.9 47.0 -33.9
65+ 13.2 41.5 45.3 -32.1

Audacious Epigone said...


Yeah, the wording is suboptimal. Still, to the extent that there is any misinterpretation, I think it will tend to lead to responses understating their relative restrictionist sentiments.


There should be a satisfying stock answer for the endgame question. As for the average SWPL, I think immediate moral posturing takes priority over thoughts about long-term consequences.

W. Berger said...

The link associated with "the 2014 iteration of the GSS" is broken. Can you provide an active one?
And what do we know of whom conducted the survey and its quality?

Audacious Epigone said...


To finish that first thought, while there 'should' be, there isn't. Not one that I'm aware of anyway.

W Berger,

Cut+paste the following, don't know why it redirects like that:


Take a look at the Wikipedia page on the survey.

bleach said...

America has the highest rate of immigration in the world, so I don't really understand why the no change option is not counted in quotient... Any one who wants no change in American immigration policy should realistically be considered very strongly pro-immigration...and the American populace (not a 'people' afaic) are unfortunately, rabidly, blindly nuts for immigration. Immigrants dreaming of freedumb in the promised land is what merica's all about, don't you know.