News outlets citing Rasmussen poll of 70% of AZ voters favor immigration bill are delivering inaccurate news

LatinaLista — Arizona has a total population of 6,595,778. If you factor in the undocumented population, which is reported to be between 400-500,000, that still leaves over six million people.

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So, why is a telephone poll that surveyed 500 “likely voters” in Arizona being touted in news headlines and on news shows as representing the majority of Arizona citizens?

It doesn’t even come close.

Yet no news organization to date, when reporting on the results of this poll, that surveyed Arizona residents and their feelings on the new immigration law, clarified that only 500 people were called.

It makes a big difference when commentators and reporters declare that the majority of Arizonans favor the new immigration bill when, in reality, it’s far from the truth.

The poll in question is last week’s Rasmussen poll that declared 70% of Arizona Voters Favor New State Measure Cracking Down On Illegal Immigration

According to this same survey, 23 percent were opposed to SB 1070. The survey also revealed:

Opponents of the measure, including major national Hispanic groups, say it will lead to racial profiling, and 53% of voters in the state are concerned that efforts to identify and deport illegal immigrants also will end up violating the civil rights of some U.S. citizens. Forty-six percent (46%) don’t share that concern.

With such a sensitive issue as immigration, it seems disingenuous for news outlets to herald this poll of 500 people as the definitive majority of the state.

The plain and simple truth is it isn’t.

When using this poll, news outlets need to clarify that it was a poll of only 500 people or “likely voters” and only reflected the opinions of these 500.

Too often, poll results are seized upon and publicized because they make sensational headlines in and of themselves. Latina Lista is as guilty of doing this as any blogger, journalist or news outlet.

But depending on the issue polled and for whom it is speaking for, the total number polled makes a difference as to the credibility of that poll’s findings.

In this case, 500 people doesn’t constitute the claim made so far that “the majority of Arizonans are for this immigration bill.”

It would be far more accurate to say that “the majority of the 500 people polled are in favor of this immigration bill.”

It may not create the great debate that news outlets love to sensationalize upon but it would reflect the greater truth of this poll rather than misleading people to believe otherwise, without the evidence.

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6 Comments

  1. Ben Mason said:

    I don’t even know how an editor would ever allow this article to be ever published! Somebody get the author a dictionary & a math book because they don’t have any idea how a poll works! A poll is conducted when one cannot count all voters and so a sample is taken to arrive at number that reflects the majorities opinion!!!

  2. JoeW said:

    Marissa asked, So, why is a telephone poll that surveyed 500 “likely voters” in Arizona being touted in news headlines and on news shows as representing the majority of Arizona citizens?”
    It is a scientific poll of VOTERS. Rass is, statistically the most accurate pollster in the U.S. See scientific study of pollsters after last Pres election. Does THAT answer your question?

  3. Eon said:

    Google search “Arizona Immigration Law poll” and check the results of them. 100% of the polls favor the new law. Local and national polls alike. Inform yourself properly before blogging next time!

  4. Jim B said:

    CNN Poll showed 69% favor Arizona’s decision to enforce the law.

  5. Carlos Guerra said:

    Rasmussin has long had methodological issues, but to dismiss a poll because it sampled only 500 respondents simply displays ignorance about polling in general. A sample of 500, randomly chosen or even weighted, is statistically significant and can produce margins of error of less than plus or minus 5 percent.

  6. Evelyn said:

    Why it’s increasingly difficult to take Rasmussen polls seriously
    The surveys seem to exist solely to advance GOP talking points. Meaning, Rasmussen at times appears to function less as a legitimate polling firm and more as the polling wing of the RNC.
    What kind of polling firm, while trying to take the country’s temperature about politics, only questions Republicans?
    ~~
    Rasmussen’s right-wing bias
    There’s are reasons most major news outlets don’t often mention a Rasmussen poll. One reason is because their questions are designed to elicit responses that skew heavily to the right.
    The second reason is that Rasmussen doesn’t even use live operators or ask for voice responses. They robo-call their phone list sample, which is weighted more heavily to Republican households than the general demographic, and they tabulate based on phone keypad responses. There’s no quality control in that polling – does voice mail or a fax machine produce tones that Rasmussen counts as “yes” responses? Nobody knows. Does no response produce a “yes” response? Nobody knows.
    We do know that they’re an outlier that always produces results that guarantee favorable Fox News coverage and always agree with the GOP talking points of the moment.
    That’s a little too coincidental for most news organizations to take seriously.

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