Americans Have A Long History Of Opposing Refugees. But Most Support Afghan Asylum Seekers.

“fear-mongering is neither surprising nor new. There’s a long history of politicians erroneously representing refugees as economic burdens who pose cultural and/or national security threats to the U.S. In fact, the same arguments against Afghan asylum seekers were also deployed in 2015 and 2016 against resettling Syrian refugees displaced by their country’s civil war. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump regularly railed against the refugee policies of then-President Barack Obama’s administration, proclaiming at the Republican National Convention, “We don’t want them in our country.” Trump’s administration made this point even clearer, banning Syrian refugees and cutting the total number of refugees allowed in the U.S. by more than 80 percent.”

“Searching through the Roper Center’s database of polling questions on “refugees” since the 1930s reveals that Americans have rarely supported asylum for forcibly displaced migrants seeking safe-haven in the U.S.1 Nearly two-thirds opposed admitting 10,000 Jewish children into the U.S., who were fleeing Nazism in 1939. Even after the horrors of the Holocaust were further exposed in the post-war period, only 27 percent of respondents in a 1946 Gallup poll supported a proposed “plan to require each nation to take in a given number of Jewish and other European refugees,” compared with 59 percent who disapproved.
The public’s opposition to resettling refugees in the U.S. persisted throughout the 20th century. Polling from the late 1970s, for example, consistently showed that most Americans opposed admitting thousands of refugees from Southeast Asia in the Vietnam War’s aftermath. While support can vary by question-wording, majorities also opposed accepting Hungarian refugees in the 1950s, Cuban refugees in the 1980s and Haitian refugees in the 1990s. The same pattern once again emerged in 2015, when polls showed that few Americans wanted to take in refugees escaping the civil war in Syria.”

“Americans generally became more supportive of immigration in response to the Trump administration’s restrictive policies — a well-documented dynamic in U.S. politics where public opinion tends to move against the president’s positions. As part of that overall shift, Americans’ views of refugees shifted in the same direction. Support for accepting Muslim refugees from Syria increased in The Economist/YouGovsurveys from 38 percent in November 2015 to 52 percent in April 2017. Quinnipiac University Poll showed a similar 12-point increase in support for admitting Syrian refugees over the same 16-month time period (43 percent to 55 percent respectively); and the share of Americans saying the “U.S. has a responsibility to accept Syrian refugees” in Pew Research Center polling rose from 40 percent in October 2016 to 47 in February 2017.

The growing public support for refugees in the Trump era extended beyond the Syrian civil war. Indeed, the percentage of Americans who said that taking in civilian refugees who are trying to escape violence should be a very or somewhat important goal of U.S. immigration policy increased by double digits in Pew polls fielded in December 2016 and September 2019 (61 percent to 72 percent, respectively). Meanwhile, the share of HuffPost/YouGov respondents who said “the U.S. does not have a responsibility to take in refugees fleeing from other countries” decreased from 54 percent in 2015 to 42 percent in 2019. And 2019 polls conducted by Gallup, CNN and Fox News all showed majority support for accepting Central American refugees into the U.S.

The more welcoming context is one important reason why we’re now seeing stronger support for Afghan refugees than previous asylum seekers.”

“The majority of voters in an AugustMorning Consult poll supported relocating Afghan refugees in the U.S., while just one-third were opposed. Support was even stronger in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, where 68 percent strongly or somewhat favored the U.S. taking in Afghan refugees after security screenings. And Americans are especially supportive of Afghans who helped U.S. forces during the 20-year war, with a whopping 81-percent of those surveyed by YouGov/CBS News saying we should help Afghans who worked with American troops come to the U.S.”

What Americans Think About The Fight Over The Debt Ceiling

“it’s likely that many Americans don’t understand what the debt ceiling is or what raising it entails. Consider the high share of respondents who said they were unsure in The Economist/YouGov’s survey. Part of what’s tricky here is the debt ceiling refers to debt and financial obligations the U.S. has already accrued — such as interest on the country’s debt or previously authorized spending, like Social Security benefits. That is, the debt limit is not a tool that authorizes new spending, as such expenditures are decided in completely separate legislation, like a bill for the next federal budget.”

“past polls back up the idea that many people don’t grasp what it is or what the risks are if it’s not increased. In a 2013 HuffPost/YouGov poll, for instance, 42 percent of Americans correctly responded that a higher debt ceiling allowed the country to pay interest on its debt and spending that’s already been authorized, but 39 percent mistakenly said that the debt ceiling directly increased government spending and the amount of debt the U.S. holds. This survey also found plenty of uncertainty, as 20 percent said they weren’t sure what raising the debt ceiling meant. A poll by the Washington Post/Pew Research Center from 2011 — when the debt-ceiling debate was particularly fraught — also reflected a misunderstanding of the consequences of raising or not raising the debt limit. In the poll, more Americans were worried about what would happen if the debt ceiling was raised than if it wasn’t: 48 percent were more concerned that raising the debt ceiling would lead to more spending and debt, while 35 percent were more worried that not raising the cap would force a debt default and cause economic harm.”

The Polls Weren’t Great. But That’s Pretty Normal.

“I don’t entirely understand the polls-were-wrong storyline. This year was definitely a little weird, given that the vote share margins were often fairly far off from the polls (including in some high-profile examples such as Wisconsin and Florida). But at the same time, a high percentage of states (likely 48 out of 50) were “called” correctly, as was the overall Electoral College and popular vote winner (Biden). And that’s usually how polls are judged: Did they identify the right winner?”

“the margins by which the polls missed — underestimating President Trump by what will likely end up being 3 to 4 percentage points in national and swing state polls — is actually pretty normal by historical standards.”

“However, there are nevertheless reasons to be concerned about the polls going forward, especially if it’s hard to get a truly representative sample of people on the phone.”

“Voters and the media need to recalibrate their expectations around polls — not necessarily because anything’s changed, but because those expectations demanded an unrealistic level of precision — while simultaneously resisting the urge to “throw all the polls out.””

One pollster’s explanation for why the polls got it wrong

“Yes, the polls correctly predicted that Joe Biden would win the presidency. But they got all kinds of details, and a number of Senate races, badly wrong. FiveThirtyEight’s polling models projected that Biden would win Wisconsin by 8.3 points; with basically all the votes in, he won by a mere 0.63 percent, a miss of more than 7 points. In the Maine Senate race, FiveThirtyEight estimated that Democrat Sara Gideon would beat Republican incumbent Susan Collins by 2 points; Gideon lost by 9 points, an 11-point miss.”

“The theory is that the kind of people who answer polls are systematically different from the kind of people who refuse to answer polls — and that this has recently begun biasing the polls in a systematic way.
This challenges a core premise of polling, which is that you can use the responses of poll takers to infer the views of the population at large — and that if there are differences between poll takers and non-poll takers, they can be statistically “controlled” for by weighting according to race, education, gender, and so forth. (Weighting increases and decreases the importance of responses from particular groups in a poll to better match their share of the actual population.) If these two groups do differ systematically, that means the results are biased.

The assumption that poll respondents and non-respondents are basically similar, once properly weighted, used to be roughly right — and then, starting in 2016, it became very, very wrong. People who don’t answer polls, Shor argues, tend to have low levels of trust in other people more generally. These low-trust folks used to vote similarly to everyone else. But as of 2016, they don’t: they tend to vote for Republicans.”

“n 2020, Shor argues that the differences between poll respondents and non-respondents have gotten larger still. In part due to Covid-19 stir-craziness, Democrats, and particularly highly civically engaged Democrats who donate to and volunteer for campaigns, have become likelier to answer polls. It’s something to do when we’re all bored, and it feels civically useful. This biased the polls, Shor argues, in deep ways that even the best polls (including his own) struggled to account for.
Liberal Democrats answered more polls, so the polls overrepresented liberal Democrats and their views (even after weighting), and thus the polls gave Biden and Senate Democrats inflated odds of winning.”

We need to talk about the white people who voted for Donald Trump

“In 2016, white voters propelled Trump to the presidency, with 54 percent voting for him and 39 percent voting for Hillary Clinton, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center study. And though the end result might be different in 2020 — exit polls are by no means comprehensive or exact — early evidence shows that white people’s voting patterns look much the same: 57 percent of this group voted to reelect the president while 42 percent voted for Democratic challenger Joe Biden, according to Edison Research’s exit polls of 15,590 voters conducted outside their polling places, at early voting sites, or by phone. That makes white people the only racial group in which a majority voted for Trump”

“Trump appears to have gained about 3 percentage points each with Black, Latinx, and Asian American voters since 2016 (exit polls appear not to have broken out Indigenous voters, instead lumping them into the category of “other”). And pointing out that none of these groups are monolithic is an important corrective to the inaccurate idea that “people of color” are homogenous or always vote as a bloc.”

“the majority of white Americans voted for Trump, even after a recession and a botched response to a pandemic that has left more than 200,000 dead.”

“The focus on voters of color started on election night. Trump took Florida, one of the first states to be called, creating the impression among many liberals that Biden was on the edge of losing. Many were looking for answers, and one that got a lot of attention was the fact that Biden had underperformed Hillary Clinton in Miami-Dade County, home to many Cuban-American voters.
In the last two days, we’ve seen numerous examinations of what happened in Miami-Dade, as well as lots of focus on Trump’s gains among Black men nationwide. The fact that Trump appears to have picked up votes since 2016 with every racial group except white men also got a lot of attention (though what appears to be a small gain among white women has been less remarked upon).”

“But an increasingly clear picture is also emerging of Black voters in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania helping push Biden to victory — and of Latinx and Indigenous voters in Arizona and elsewhere making a big difference as well. And while much attention has been paid to the minorities of voters of color who cast their ballots for Trump, there’s been less acknowledgment that according to exit polls, the majority of those voters — 87 percent of Black voters, 66 percent of Latinx voters, and 63 percent of Asian American voters — chose Biden.”

“Despite his gains among voters of color, Trump’s base has always been white people. That didn’t change in 2020, when a majority of white voters backed him. And since white voters comprise the majority of the electorate — 65 percent according to Edison Research — they make up by far the largest bloc to support him. Black and Latinx voters, meanwhile, make up 12 and 13 percent, respectively.”

“Trump actually lost some ground with white men in 2020 relative to 2016. However, he still captured a majority, with 58 percent of this group voting for him compared with 40 percent for Biden.”

“white youth were the likeliest to support Trump, with 43 percent of white voters between ages 18 and 29 voting for Trump, according to exit poll data analyzed by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. By comparison, just 9 percent of young Black voters, 13 percent of young Asian voters, and 21 percent of young Latino voters backed Trump.”

Poll: 70 percent of Republicans don’t think the election was free and fair

“70 percent of Republicans now say they don’t believe the 2020 election was free and fair, a stark rise from the 35 percent of GOP voters who held similar beliefs before the election. Meanwhile, trust in the election system grew for Democrats, many who took to the streets to celebrate Biden’s victory on Saturday. Ninety percent of Democrats now say the election was free and fair, up from 52 percent before Nov. 3”

“Among Republicans who believed that the election wasn’t free and fair, 78 percent believed that mail-in voting led to widespread voter fraud and 72 percent believed that ballots were tampered with — both claims that have made a constant appearance on the president’s Twitter thread. Like President Donald Trump, a majority of the people that thought the election was unfair, 84 percent, said it benefited Biden.”

What Pollsters Have Changed Since 2016 — And What Still Worries Them About 2020

“in 2016: Trump beat his polls by just a few points in just a few states. The presidential polls were, simply, not that off. State-level polling was less accurate, although as editor-in-chief Nate Silver wrote after the election, it was “still within the ‘normal’ range of accuracy.”

That doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of polling lessons to be gleaned from 2016, though. The importance of education in predicting a person’s political preferences was a big one.”

“Nearly every pollster we talked to has made some kind of modification since the last general election. Some changes were precipitated by what happened in 2016, while others were driven by the challenges facing the polling industry, such as low response rates to phone calls and the greater cost of high-quality polling.

But one thing came up again and again in our interviews: Pollsters told us they were now weighting their samples by education, because one key takeaway from 2016 was just how important someone’s level of educational attainment was in predicting their vote.”

“NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls are even weighted by the share of respondents from urban, suburban and rural areas. “This helps to make sure we are fully representing rural Americans,” said Horwitt, adding that it also “removes another factor which can contribute to poll-to-poll variation.”
A number of pollsters have also changed the way they recruit respondents to make sure they are reaching every pocket of the population. Courtney Kennedy, Pew Research Center’s director of survey research, explained that Pew has moved away from conducting polls by live phone calls that use random-digit dialing to reach respondents to an address-based approach in which Pew first gets in touch with respondents by snail mail to recruit them. Horwitt also told us that NBC News/Wall Street Journal no longer uses random-digit dialing; instead, they draw their samples from lists of registered voters, which allows them to “calibrate the mix of respondents between Republicans, independents and Democrats on each survey.”

Pollsters that reach respondents by phone are also relying more on cellphones.”

“many pollsters are using a combination of approaches to reach the widest slice of voters.”

Support For Black Lives Matter Surged During Protests, But Is Waning Among White Americans

“The recent protests against police brutality are some of the largest and most widespread in American history. An estimated 15 million to 26 million Americans have taken to the streets to protest police violence and advocate for Black lives.

The remarkable size and scope of these demonstrations has translated into real policy gains, too. Dozens of state and local police reforms have been enacted since the protests started. And at the federal level, President Trump signed an executive order that outlines his administration’s priorities for police reform, including creating a national database that catalogues police misconduct. The House of Representatives passed an even more ambitious piece of legislation that proposes a series of reforms, like tying federal funding to bans on chokeholds and setting up a task force to address excessive police force, but the GOP-controlled Senate hasn’t taken it up.

Arguably, though, the protests’ impact on public opinion has been even more immediate and wide-ranging. Unfavorable views of the police, acknowledgement of widespread discrimination against African Americans and support for Black Lives Matter all jumped up by at least 10 percentage points, according to tracking polls conducted shortly before and after the protests by both Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape and Civiqs.

These changes in public opinion are being driven in large part by white Americans, who for years have been much less likely than Black Americans to acknowledge that racial inequality remains a real problem. Since the first wave of large-scale Black Lives Matter protests in 2014, white Americans’ racial attitudes have gradually become more liberalized while Black Americans’ views have remained relatively steady.

Trump’s many offensive statements may be contributing to this trend, as they seem to be driving Democrats, particularly white Democrats, to adopt more liberal views on race in response. That’s one reason so many white Democrats showed up at the most recent protests.

But the protests’ impact on public opinion appears to be fading — particularly among white Americans”

“unfavorable views of the police are trending back down toward their pre-protest levels among white Americans and have dipped among Black Americans. White respondents are also becoming somewhat less likely to say that African Americans face “a lot” or “a great deal” of discrimination, though those numbers remain higher than they were before before George Floyd was killed in May. Black Americans’ views on the discrimination they face have remained essentially unchanged.”

“This decline in public opinion is consistent with a long line of political science research that tells us that the effects of events on public opinion tend to last only for as long as they are at the forefront of the country’s — or, in this case, one group’s — collective consciousness. That also means that without prolonged activism and sustained media attention, the impact of this year’s protests on white public opinion could evaporate entirely.”

81 Percent of Black Americans Want the Same Level, or More, of Police Presence: Gallup

“As calls to defund and abolish the police grow around the country, a new poll by Gallup finds that a large majority—81 percent—of black Americans want the same or increased levels of police presence in their neighborhoods. Just 19 percent of black Americans said they want the police to spend less time in their neighborhoods”