THE BLOG
11/11/2014 02:07 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Who Cares About U.S. Immigration?

The issue of refugees and illegal immigration sparked heated debates over the summer. On the July Fourth holiday, Obama told citizens that immigrants are central to the way of life in the USA, and that he hoped to pass comprehensive immigration overhauls. This was met with fierce opposition in the political arena. In late July, hundreds of regional protests were scheduled across the USA to raise awareness over the massive quantities of refugees overwhelming border control resources.

Immigration is just one of the nearly 30 important social issues we've been tracking and, on average, about 6.5 percent of people indicate that immigration is the single most important issue to them.

Politically, people who are most concerned about immigration are far more likely to be Republican (46.3 percent) than Democrat (16.8 percent), and 68 percent say that if they voted today, they would be somewhat or very unlikely to vote for the Democratic Party.

In terms of their perceptions of Barack Obama and how he is handling various issues, 69 percent of people who say that immigration is their top issue disapprove of Obama's stance on guns, 51 percent disapprove of his stance on the LGBTQ community, 72 percent approve of his stance on foreign policy, and 58 percent disapprove of his stance on abortion. Lastly, these people feel that gun laws should stay the same as they are (43 percent) or the laws should make it easier to acquire guns (17 percent).

Who are these people? They're slightly more likely to be men (54 percent vs. 46 percent). They're slightly less likely to be full-time employed (30 percent vs. 36 percent), more likely to be retired (36 percent vs. 23 percent), more likely to be white (80 percent vs. 75 percent), much more likely to be aged 65 or more (35 percent vs. 17 percent), and more likely to reside in the West of the country (31 percent vs. 22 percent).

What is the most interesting part of all of this? Marketing researchers know that actions speak louder than words. People may say something and truly believe it and feel it, whether it's a voting behavior or a purchase behavior. But when it comes down to acting on that belief, it's a completely different animal.

We compared the weekly percentage of people who chose immigration as their top issue with weekly Google Trends for the phrase "illegal immigration." Google trends allows you to monitor how often or how much people search for certain words or phrases within Google.

As you can see in the line chart, the relationship was quite good generating a correlation of r=0.61. In other words, in July, the rise in the percentage of people indicating that immigration was their number one issue coincided with a similar increase in the number of Google searches for "illegal immigrants."

In this case, actions spoke as loud as words.

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N=2004 census representative adults residing in the USA, July 1- October 16, 2014. Respondents for this survey were randomly selected according to USA census demographics from among those who have volunteered to answer surveys as part of the Peanut Labs self-serve pre-screened panel. The data was weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the USA. Because the sample was based on those who self-selected for participation rather than a sample based on probabilities, estimates of sampling error cannot be calculated. All sample surveys and polls are subject to multiple sources of error including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, and measurement error.