Where‘s the ―Public in Public Policy: Skewed Democratic Pluralism vs. Nuanced Opinion in Attitudes toward Unauthorized Immigrants




Kay, Ward

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On immigration reform, the motivated minority that highly influences public policy is in dissonance with the policy preferences of the majority of Americans. In 2006, an attempt at comprehensive immigration reform whose main tenets were supported by 80 percent of Americans in a Gallup poll was defeated when anti-immigration opponents flooded the Senate switchboard with protest calls. This study, using primary data from a national telephone survey, finds that the majority of Americans views are not represented by interest groups involved in the policy debate on immigration. Americans are moderate in their viewpoint being both against the flow of unauthorized immigration while at the same time acknowledging that hard-working immigrants should be allowed to become citizens. However, for those who support stricter immigration measures, the issue is of higher salience, which provides them with more influence than the general public.



Public opinion, Interest groups, Immigration, Pluralism