Speed Reads

survey says...?

This is why you've seen such different poll results on Trump's immigration order

Do most Americans support or oppose President Trump's immigration executive order? Well, it depends on which poll results you consult. Since the order was signed, we've seen surveys in which a majority or plurality back Trump's plan, plus surveys with just the opposite result — and there's no clear trend in one direction or the other.

It's theoretically possible that Americans are just changing their minds a lot, but the more likely explanation is threefold, as Politico describes. First, survey participants' answers can be substantially influenced by question wording, and wording varies even when pollsters do their best to be fair. For example, if a question describes Trump's order as stopping "potential terrorists" from entering America, people seem to be more likely to say they support it than if that phrase isn't used.

Polling methodology matters, too. "Just as with Trump's overall approval rating, the immigration freeze appears to be more popular in polls conducted online or by automated phone calls — and less popular in surveys conducted by live phone interviewers," Politico notes.

And third, survey results are likely to be most precise when elements of the order are addressed separately, instead of as one lump policy. A Quinnipiac poll that took this route found Americans are nearly evenly split over the temporary ban on U.S. entrance for people from seven majority-Muslim countries. However, "opposition was stronger for the temporary ban on refugees (60 percent) and ending the Syrian refugee program entirely (70 percent)" when those were addressed separately. Read Politico's full analysis here.