A clash of polling perspectives on in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants

The results of a Tennessee Star poll on support for granting in-state tuition rates to children of illegal immigrants living in Tennessee are strikingly different from results from a similar Vanderbilt University poll on the subject.

Tennessee Star’s results, reported Thursday, are that 84 percent of the “likely Republican primary voters” surveyed are opposed while only 13 percent support the notion. The Vanderbilt poll, reported May 30, found 66 percent of registered voters favor the idea while just 30 percent oppose.

One difference, of course, is the Star only asked  declared Republicans while Vanderbilt covered all registered voters. But the Vandy poll found support for the proposal, which has failed on close votes in the General Assembly for the past two year, widespread despite party alignment. Among those identifying themselves as Republicans, Vanderbilt reported 55 percent support (Democrats 87 percent; independents 66 percent).

Which leads to the thought that the responses may have had something to do with the way the question was phrased.

Here is the question posed to those surveyed by the Tennessee Star:

“In 2018, the Tennessee General Assembly is expected to reconsider a bill to provide in-state college tuition to illegal immigrant students. Do you support or oppose providing in-state college tuition to illegal immigrant students?”

Here is the question posed to those surveyed by Vanderbilt:

“Now thinking about children of undocumented immigrants who are brought to this country when they are young… If these children attend Tennessee public schools, graduate from a Tennessee high school and are accepted at one of Tennessee’s public colleges and universities, do you think they should be eligible for the in-state tuition rate, or shouldn’t they?”

Note: The Star doesn’t mention the Vandy poll in its own poll story. But the right-wing website recently devoted some space to an opinion piece bashing the Vanderbilt survey, HERE.

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