Thursday, January 24, 2008

More on Civitas

Max Borders of Civitas, not surprisingly, does not like my view of their question about illegal immigrants and the community college system. He posted about it here.

Again, here's how they worded their question:
DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THE DECISION BY THE NORTH CAROLINA COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM TO REQUIRE LOCAL COMMUNITY COLLEGES TO ADMIT 18 YEAR OLD ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS AND CHARGE THEM OUT-OF-STATE TUITION RATES?
The problem with this is that you're giving respondents two reasons to say no. Some people, probably conservatives, might say no because they don't think illegal immigrants should be able to attend local community colleges. Other people, probably liberals, might say no because they don't think the illegal immigrants should be charged out of state tuition rates if they have lived in North Carolina for much of their lives. Civitas set up the question to elicit a specific answer, and they know that.

I think my wording of the question is much more straight forward:
Do you think the children of illegal immigrants, who have attended North Carolina's public schools, should be able to attend the state's Community Colleges?
Should folks who have grown up in North Carolina and been educated in our public schools be able to continue their education in our community colleges or not? That's the thrust of the issue from my vantage. You can start addressing other parts of the issue from there but that's the big picture.

It would also be interesting to see the crosstabs on that one. Democratic gubernatorial candidates Richard Moore and Bev Perdue both came out against letting the children of illegal immigrants attend our community colleges. But if 39% of the folks Civitas polled said they agreed with the Community College system's decision, then I would guess that includes a majority of Democrats. Moore and Perdue took what they thought was the politically safe position, and maybe it insulates them in the general election, but they both missed out on an opportunity to show some leadership that would have been popular with voters in the primary.

4 comments:

Chris said...

Tom,

How about just a straightforward question:
"Should the community college system admit illegal immigrants?"

You're wording tries to bias the question saying that it's "about the children" even though the average age of community college students is 29.
You're wording echoes the talking points that Fitzsimon, et. al. on the left distributed that tries to build a sympathetic tone for these poor innocent children.

The question should be about the policy. Should illegal immigrants be allowed to attend community college in NC.
Then you can ask a 2nd question that pushes either way.

Tom Jensen said...

Hey Chris,

Certainly I think that wording is better than the wording you used in the actual poll!

But you and I both know that the average age of community college students is 29 because so many older people are having to go back to gain new skills because their jobs have been outsourced.

That's not who we're talking about on the illegal immigrant issue. On that front we are frequently talking about folks who have graduated from our public high schools but because of the need to work or lack of finances are not in the position to immediately move onto a four year college.

I think the way I would have worded the question is reasonable, and I think the wording you propose in this comment is reasonable too. If we ask it on a poll sometime I'll try to do it both ways.

Chris said...

Tom,

It's all about what you're polling.

Are you polling a straight question: "should community colleges admit illegal immigrants?"

or are you polling a message: "children" or whatever from the right.

The "bias" that we both get accused of is often a testing of message.

Max said...

I'd also add that the Civitas question, while it has two elements, actually biases the question in favor of the Democrat talking points. After all, the bit about "out of state tuition" is not only the policy but what the left has been putting forth. So, while there could be some hypothetical few out there who say "no, they should pay in state tuition!" the question as worded, while imperfect, is charitable. Your version is too (to your team).

 
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