By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Fake outrage over a non-issue (II)

A New York Times/CBS News national poll of Democrats and Republicans shows that the constant drumbeat over illegal immigration simply isn’t registering.

According to the underlying data (PDF), just 5 percent believe that immigration is the most important problem facing the country — well behind war and Iraq (a cumulative 22 percent) and the economy (20 percent), and slightly behind health care (7 percent).

When asked what kind of change they most want to see the next president bring about, reducing illegal immigration (4 percent of respondents) was again well down on the list, behind improving the economy (20 percent), dealing with the war in Iraq (14 percent), improving health care (6 percent) and helping the middle class (5 percent).

Just to reinforce the point, John McCain — perceived as taking the least draconian stand on illegal immigration of any Republican presidential candidate — now gets the highest favorability ratings.

As Globe columnist Joan Vennochi points out, even though Gov. Deval Patrick is taking a political risk with his not-quite-proposal to extend in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants, Patrick is well aware that immigrant-bashing has proved to be a loser of an issue.

Herald columnist Peter Gelzinis makes the same observation, writing:

Do you think Gov. Deval Patrick would be floating the idea of lowering state college tuition rates for illegal immigrants at this moment if Mitt Romney’s $40 million “illegal alien” screed had carried him to victory in Iowa and New Hampshire?

I don’t think so. Deval may be a moonbat, but he did manage to graduate from the same law school as Willard.

Gelzinis also notes that Patrick’s Republican opponent for the governorship in 2006, Kerry Healey, made a huge deal of illegal immigration. Healey, of course, became the first Republican candidate to lose a governor’s race in Massachusetts since 1986.

Politicians make a huge mistake when they confuse what they hear on talk radio with what most average Americans have on their minds.

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  1. Peter Porcupine

    Are these the same national polls that declared Rudy the untouchable front runner – until he wasn’t?I am snowbound in Maine and radio here is very diffferent. I was listening to a talk show with Jackie Mason (who knew?) who was on with a pollster who had predicted Hillary’s win. Why, Mason asked, were the others so wrong?She pointed out that there were established, reputable pollsters – Rasmussen, Gallup, Zogby, et al – and there were broadcast networks with zero expertise, but cash and empty air time, who had decided to annoint themselves pollsters as well. THOSE were the polls that were so wrong. Go to RCP, and factor out polls from media outlets – the results change!So – be wary of ABC News and its fledgling polling operation, until they can explain why Obama didn’t win that double digit victory they predicted….even if they ARE saying what you want to hear.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    PP: Rudy was the front-runner when he was the front-runner. Not sure what you mean by “untouchable.”

  3. Don, American

    New York Times poll? Gaaaaag. . . .

  4. Anonymous

    Immigration was number two in September, behind war, and number three in July and May. You may recall that McCain/Kennedy’s amnesty proposal died precisely because the election cycle was drawing near. McCain’s done a good job of neutralizing the issue in the campaign by riding the remarkably – and surprisingly, imo – successful surge in Iraq. Now, how many points did casinos or gambling get? I take it Patrick is pushing casinos because they are a non issue?

  5. bostonph

    Interestingly, the percentage of seriously mentally ill people in the United States is 6% (from the NIMH figures). The real question is why both potential Republican challengers for John Kerry’s seat (Ogonowski and Beatty) have made immigration their number one campaign issue, especially after it was such a flop for Kerry. I have my theories…

  6. jvwalt

    The poll results aren’t really much of a surprise, in that the returns from Iowa and NH seemed to indicate that immigration was not a decisive factor. It certainly didn’t help the immigrant-bashers much. And I’m not talking about the likes of Tancredo and Hunter; I’m talking about Romney and Giuliani, who tried desperately to outdo each other in anti-immigrant posturing. The winners so far: Huckabee, who hasn’t particularly pressed the issue, and McCain, who was perceived to be the immigration “liberal” in the race. Now, my question is, why was immigration taken so seriously in the campaign last year? It wasn’t just the likes of Lou Dobbs and Michael Savage; most politicos and pundits thought immigration was a hot-button issue. Did voters change their minds? Or did the “experts” screw up again on this one?

  7. Anonymous

    Alluded to above, but remember that CBS News…and The New York times…have proven to be among the most disreputable and bias national news outlets in America. An important lesson in today’s media landscape is look not only at the data, but also where it comes from. Hopefully it’s a lesson Dan teaches to his students.

  8. bostonph

    That should be “flop for Kerry Healy” above.Anon8:20Not that Dan needs defending, but he cited both polls and empirical evidence to back up his argument. Do you have any evidence besides your bias against the New York Times and CBS? Do you even have evidence that New York Times polls are biased? jvwalts comments are much more to the point. A few posts ago Dan asked if this just the result of a Republican strategy memo that caught fire with the more vociferous wing of the party. It makes as much sense as any other explanation I’ve heard.I’m from Texas originally and nobody in my extended family particularly cares…

  9. Suldog

    “… returns from Iowa and NH seemed to indicate that immigration was not a decisive factor.”Just how big is the immigrant population in Iowa and New Hampshire?If it’s as miniscule as I think it may be, then let’s move on to a better question: Where were the people polled by ABC and/or NY Times located? In centers of large alien populations? Or in places – perhaps such as Iowa and NH – that may not have such an overwhelming need to voice an opinion on something that doesn’t affect them all that much?I question the validity of ALL polls, until I see a breakdown of WHO was polled.

  10. Peter Porcupine

    DK – for your consideration on this issue –

  11. Anonymous

    PP,Wow. Worst attempt to wrest an argument from a heart-wrenching anecdote EVER. Dan, is it true that you and PP are close personal friends?

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 10:39: PP and I fought in the Revolutionary War together. I saved his life, but he has proved to be insufficiently grateful.

  13. bostonph

    Dan,I remember you from the Steve Boursy days of ne.politics, so knew you were old, but didn’t think you were THAT old. Impressive. I salute you for your service to our fledgling Republic.Paul/anon10:39

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