CBS/N.Y. Times Poll Finds Majority Favor Arizona Law Despite Their Loaded Questions

Byron York of the Washington Examiner found the media elite tried and failed to goad the public into opposing the new Arizona immigration-enforcement law. A new CBS/New York Times poll discovered 51 percent found it "about right," and only 34 percent checked the media's strongly preferred answer of goes "too far." York suggested the stories on the poll hinted heavily that the questions were loaded. Check out how Brian Montopoli at CBS reported its findings:

Despite their expectation that it will burden police departments and disproportionately affect certain ethnic groups, a slim majority of Americans believe the controversial illegal immigration measure recently signed into law in Arizona is “about right” in its approach, according to a newly-released CBS News/New York Times poll.

Randal Archibold and Megan Thee-Brenan of the Times reported the story this way:

[D]espite protests against Arizona’s stringent new immigration enforcement law, a majority of Americans support it, even though they say it may lead to racial profiling.

This is the actual text of the CBS/NYT poll question: 

As you may know, the state of Arizona recently passed a law that gives the police the power to question anyone they suspect is in the country illegally, requires people to produce documents verifying their status if asked, and allows officers to detain anyone who cannot do so. Do you think this law goes too far in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration, doesn’t go far enough, or is it about right?

Byron York wrote the question was misleading: 

The question did not say that the law specifies that police questioning can take place only in the context of a “lawful stop, detention, or arrest.”  The question did not touch on the law’s use of the phrase “reasonable suspicion,” nor did it say that “produce documents” means producing a driver’s license, which is a familiar experience for most Americans....

As for the poll’s other results: 78 percent say the U.S. “could be doing more” to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the country; 89 percent say U.S. immigration policy should be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt; 65 percent say illegal immigration is a very serious problem; and 74 percent say the presence of illegal immigrants weakens the U.S. economy.

The numbers are much weaker on deportation: just 32 percent says illegal aliens should leave the country, while 64 percent thought they should be "allowed to stay" as guest workers or as applying for citizenship. The poll question asked if illegals should be "required to leave their job and leave the U.S.." CBS and the Times also found 72 percent said it was likely that the new law would lead to a reduction in the number of illegal aliens in Arizona, and 69 percent thought it was likely that the new law would deter new aliens from entering Arizona; 54 percent said it was likely crime would go down. 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis