The Hill tells me that Democratic pollster Mark Penn claims that a vast majority of Americans don’t really support sanctuary cities. The one-time chief strategist for Hillary Clinton‘s 2008 presidential campaign says that a poll he took revealed that 84 percent of Americans favor turning undocumented immigrants over to federal agents.
“I asked them, ‘Do you think notifying ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] would in fact increase crime because it would inhibit people from reporting crimes or does it decrease crimes because it takes criminals off the street,’ and they overwhelming said ‘decrease,’ ” Penn told Hill.TV’s “Rising.” “When someone’s arrested, they expect someone will notify federal immigration authorities just as they would expect someone who violates state tax law will find out that they notified the IRS,” the pollster said. This is supposedly summed up by The Hill’s headline, “Ex-Clinton aide: 84 percent of Americans support turning undocumented immigrants over to authorities.”
That headline is being widely reported as fact in the conservative media, as with Drudge’s “84% support turning illegals over to authorities.” Naturally the rest of the news media is largely ignoring it. It is an excellent example of how difficult it is to figure out what is going on. Here are my problems with it:
- I had to read Penn’s question three times to figure out what he was asking. I’m pretty sure the question involves illegal immigrants who are also criminals. If that’s what Penn asked, then he slanted the poll from the start.
- How do you get from favoring taking criminals off the street to reporting illegal immigrants? Why didn’t Penn ask, “Do you support reporting illegal immigrants to ICE?”
- Do polls mean anything now? After the 2016 election, why would anyone trust polling, or pollsters’ interpretation of the results?
- What does “support” even mean?
- Why would anyone believe a Clinton pollster? Dick Morris was a Clinton pollster!
- Why would anyone trust Mark Penn? Now that it’s clear that he hitched his wagon to a dud, Penn is trying to rebrand as the “one-time loyal Democrat who has seen the light and now makes headline-worthy proclamations that support Republicans and their policies.” We’ve seen these convenient flip-flops before, notably with Jimmy Carter’s ex-pollster Pat Caddell, who emerged during the Reagan Administration as a sudden convert. It got him on a lot more TV shows, but never was entirely convincing.
In the end, we have a dubious interpretation of a murky poll question promoted by an untrustworthy messenger with suspicious motives. And that, my friends, is how we get fake news.