HUFFPOLLSTER: How Many Americans Support The Travel Ban? Depends On The Poll

Reactions to President Trump's executive order range significantly.
An international traveler arrives after U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order travel ban at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. January 30, 2017.
An international traveler arrives after U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order travel ban at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. January 30, 2017.
Brian Snyder / Reuters

Recent surveys highlight the challenge of issue polling. The rise of “fake news” highlights the need for reliable data. And the president of Mexico’s decision not to meet with Donald Trump gives him a ratings boost at home. This is HuffPollster for Friday, February 3, 2017.

APPROVAL FOR THE TRAVEL BAN VARIES - Seven surveys released since President Trump signed an executive order on immigration last week find approval ranging from 42 percent to 52 percent, with most showing it hovering in the mid-to-high 40s. Three ― Rasmussen, Reuters/Ipsos, and HuffPost/YouGov ― give the action an overall positive rating, while the other four ― PPP, SurveyMonkey, CBS and Gallup, find it garnering a negative reaction.(CBS asked separately about the refugee ban and the ban on specific countries, but found the same response toward both.)

The Huffington Post

Why so much variation? - HuffPollster: “Surveys attempting to gauge public support for a policy sometimes vary significantly in their results. That’s particularly true on this topic, which has proved to be sensitive to small changes in wording and possibly to differences in methodology….Surveys conducted online or using automated phone calls also found generally higher support for a ban than did those using live interviewers, raising the possibility that some respondents are more loath to admit their backing for the ban when speaking to another person….There’s not necessarily a ‘right’ way of wording the question, but many small decisions ― whether to use Trump’s name, for instance, or whether to use the term ‘executive order’ or ‘travel ban’― could help to shape reactions….Some wording choices are almost guaranteed to make a difference in how a policy is perceived in a survey. Such is the case with a survey from Rasmussen Reports, conducted before the issuance of the order, which found 57 percent of likely voters in favor of a ban….The survey, conducted largely through automated phone calls, also asked for opinions on a ban that would be put in place ‘until the federal government improves its ability to screen out potential terrorists from coming here,’ a bit of phrasing almost certain to juice support for the order.” [HuffPost]

More on the challenges of issue polling - Will Jordan: “Issue polling is a dicey business, for a few reasons. For one, policies by definition deliver some kind of public ‘good’ to some constituency, at least superficially. Focus on that, and you can probably get a positive response. At the same time, there are always trade-offs, and it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to capture those trade-offs in a meaningful way (and sometimes pollsters don’t even try). And because most voters don’t care about The Good Or Maybe Bad Policy nearly as much as you do, they’re going to defer to you on the pros and cons. Second, there’s an important distinction between testing a policy as a political win for a party or politician and testing it as a piece of independent political communication that is often lost. Testing one side of that divide or the other – or some combination – is appropriate in different contexts, but they illustrate very different things.” [Borderline]

EXPERTS WARN THAT ADDING IMMIGRATION STATUS QUESTIONS TO THE CENSUS COULD HAVE A CHILLING EFFECT - Tara Bahrampour: “A White House draft executive order proposing to restrict foreign worker visas and target immigrants who get federal aid also recommends that the U.S. Census ask about immigration status, a change that experts said could have far-reaching consequences not only on immigrants but also on local economies and political redistricting. Annual questionnaires from the Census Bureau already ask whether respondents are citizens. But probing into the status of those who are not would be new, and Census experts say it would have a detrimental effect on future counts. ‘It will drive the response rate down enormously,’ said Kenneth Prewitt, a former director of the Census Bureau who is now a professor of public affairs at Columbia University. Immigrants here illegally are unlikely to answer questions about their status, he said, adding that the resulting undercount could have chilling effects.” [WashPost]

ON JUDGING DATA IN AN ERA OF ‘FAKE NEWS’ - Natalie Jackson: “We’re in a new era in which exaggerated, misconstrued and sometimes completely false news stories exist….[H]ere are a few steps you can take to make sure you don’t fall for blatantly false claims. Verify that the data or study cited exists….find out is where the information came from…. ask if the purpose of reporting particular information is to advance an agenda or simply to provide an interesting finding relevant to current events….If there’s a controversy about how the study or the data are being used, be very cautious…. It’s extremely rare that a single analysis would show a definitive conclusion without any room for question, and that needs to be acknowledged….In short: Question everything and use multiple sources.” [HuffPost]

MEXICANS SUPPORT THEIR PRESIDENT’S DECISION TO CANCEL MEETING WITH TRUMP - HuffPollster: “Almost 7 in 10 Mexicans agree that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto should have canceled his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a new poll provided to The Huffington Post.The move gives Peña Nieto a boost in support of how he is handling Mexico’s relationship with the U.S. His approval rating on this topic hit a record low in November, but very quickly reversed, returning to 63 percent approval and only 30 percent disapproval after canceling the meeting with Trump in January….The majority of Mexicans said that Peña Nieto should not accept the construction of the wall across the border or the demand that Mexico pay for the wall.” [HuffPost]

TRUMP APPROVAL WATCH - HuffPost Pollster’s aggregate gives President Trump about a 46 percent approval rating, with 49 percent disapproving, but there’s plenty of variation between pollsters. Rasmussen’s latest survey, which shows Trump with a net +6 rating, is the only one to score him positively; Gallup’s latest survey, at the other end, puts him at -9, with surveys from Ipsos/Reuters, SurveyMonkey, YouGov/Economist and PPP (D) all giving him a net rating of -1 or -2. Mark Blumenthal on SurveyMonkey’s latest, and one reason for the variation: “Trump’s support is softer than the opposition. More say they strongly disapprove (38 percent) than strongly approve (27 percent), with just over one in five Americans (21 percent) saying they approve of Trump, but only somewhat…. The number of Democrats who strongly disapprove of Trump (71 percent) exceeds the number of Republicans who strongly approve (62 percent)....The relative softness in Trump’s support helps explain the variation in his approval percentage across polls by different organizations, as some may opt to say they are uncertain, depending on the question format….SurveyMonkey’s question format does not include an explicit prompt for ‘uncertain,’ leaving it to respondents to skip questions for which they do not have an opinion. The net result should be a smaller uncertain percentage than for other polls.” [HuffPost, Trump approval chart]

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FRIDAY’S ‘OUTLIERS’ - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Philip Bump analyzes the decline in split-ticket voting and the districts where it persists. [WashPost, data via Daily Kos (D)]

-Kyle Kondik pinpoints the House districts that saw the biggest partisan swings between 2012 and 2016. [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]

- Scott Clement, Sandhya Somashekhar and Michael Alison Chandler find that many Democratic women plan to step up their activism. [WashPost]

-Bruce Stokes examines how the residents of more than a dozen countries define their national identity. [Pew Global]

-Emily Badger looks to California to predict how the debate over immigration could continue to play out nationally. [NYT]

-David Rothschild argues that Democrats have a “basic fact problem.” [Predictwise]

-Natalie Jackson reports on Republicans’ distrust of the media [HuffPost]

-Pew Research finds broad public support for childhood vaccinations. [Pew]

-Ryan Grenoble writes that most Western voters want the GOP to leave their land alone. [HuffPost]

-Josh Katz and Kevin Quealy chart out which countries America rates as allies or enemies. [NYT]

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