Views of immigrants vary by political party, with Republicans holding negative and positive views of immigrants and Democrats expressing equally positive, finding a new study that sheds more light on the complexities of immigration polarization.
“While there is a lot of research on immigration, not much is known about what people think about immigrants themselves,” said Victoria Asbury-Kimmel, a sociologist at New York University, who led the research. “By focusing on the attitudes Americans hold toward immigrants rather than immigration, this study adds depth and nuance to our understanding of public opinion on immigration issues—and how it varies by party. in politics.”
The paper, which appears in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly, also revealed differences in how Democrats and Republicans respond to messages about immigrants. Specifically, Republicans tend to interpret anti-immigrant political rhetoric as commentary about unauthorized immigrants and pro-immigrant discourse as a message about immigrants in general—and about legal ones. immigrants especially. Democrats, however, interpret both anti-immigrant and pro-immigrant narratives as about immigrants in general—rejecting the former type of messaging while embracing the latter.
To find out Americans’ views on immigrants, Asbury-Kimmel, as a doctoral student at Harvard University, surveyed more than 2,000 participants in 2021 using NORC’s AmeriSpeak Panel, which consisted of in a representative sample of the US population and sent to the researchers for adaptation. study.
To measure attitudes toward immigrants, Asbury-Kimmel presented both pro- and anti-immigrant messages. These messages were informed by text analysis of nearly 28,000 press releases and “issue” web pages from Republicans and Democrats in the US House of Representatives, as well as from the Trump and Obama White House websites. The messages themselves are taken from actual political speeches from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
Participants read either a pro- or an anti-immigrant message, then gave, on a 7-point scale, from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree,” their response. in the message.
To better understand what was driving the participants’ responses, Asbury-Kimmel also asked subsets of those surveyed specific follow-up questions, such as: Was the message “mostly true” or ” majority opinion”? Others were asked to provide an open, one-sentence summary of the message they read.
The text of these summaries was coded for inclusion of legal status-related (eg “legal,” “illegal,” “undocumented,” and “unauthorized”) and immigration-related (eg “immigrant, ” “immigration,” “migrant,” and “refugee”) terms.
In addition to accounting for political party, the study also considered self-identified Independents.
In general, Republicans agree with the anti-immigrant narrative while Democrats reject this attitude, with Independents also disapproving of this message—albeit less so.
In contrast, there is alignment between the parties when it comes to the positive message about immigrants in general (ie, the “deserving immigrant” narrative). Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all agree with some part of the pro-immigrant narrative, although Republicans agree with the message less strongly than Democrats and Independents.
These findings raise an obvious question: How is it possible to reconcile both opposing and worthy immigrant narratives, as happened with the Republicans? To answer this question, Asbury-Kimmel turned to the answers to her follow-up questions, which shed some light on these seemingly contradictory answers.
Overall, one-third of respondents believe the anti-immigrant narrative is mostly true; In contrast, more—half of those surveyed—believe the immigrant-worthy narrative is mostly true.
Second, a majority of Democrats and Independents believe the anti-immigrant narrative is mostly opinion, while a majority of Republicans believe it is mostly true. Conversely, most Democrats believe the immigrant-deserving narrative is true, while most Republicans see it as opinion. Significantly, Independents were split 50-50, with a majority of Democratic-leaners identifying the message as authentic and a majority of Republican-leaners identifying the pro-immigrant narrative as mostly opinion.
Third, Republicans are more likely to include immigration status in their written summaries of the anti-immigrant narrative than Democrats. Conversely, Democrats are more likely to mention immigrants without legal status than Republicans and Independents.
“In other words, Republicans are more likely to say the anti-immigrant message is about unauthorized immigrants and Democrats are more likely to say the message is about immigrants in general,” Asbury explained. – Kimmel.
“Democrats and Republicans have different interpretations of the same messages,” he added. “These differences in interpretation help us understand why Republicans approve of negative and positive attitudes toward immigrants and why Democrats strongly embrace positive and strongly reject negative attitudes.”
Victoria S. Asbury-Kimmel, Attitudes Toward Immigrants and Partisan Differences in Information Evaluation, Social Psychology Quarterly (2023). DOI: 10.1177/01902725231184201
Given by New York University
Citation: Democrats’ views of immigrants more favorable while Republicans have both positive and negative views: Study (2023, July 17) retrieved 18 July 2023 from https://phys.org/news/ 2023-07-democrats-perceptions-immigrants-largely- favorable.html
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