Rasmussen poll: If an alien landed in Washington without a visa, should it be arrested and imprisoned?

It is important to pay attention to polling methodology and the wording of questions asked respondents. Leading questions based on false premises can produce highly misleading results.  This phenomena is demonstrated by a recent Rasmussen poll of likely voters relating to the Inspector General’s report on alleged malfeasance by FBI officials in the origins of the Mueller investigation.

See

“Voters Favor Jail, Firing for Rogue Officials Who Targeted Trump,” Rasmussen Reports, December16, 2019.

Rasmussen reported the following, in part:

“Voters are ready to jail or fire senior law enforcement officials who illegally targeted President Trump, but most think they are unlikely to be punished.

“The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone and online survey finds that 52% of Likely U.S. Voters consider it likely that senior federal law enforcement officials broke the law in an effort to prevent Trump from winning the presidency. Thirty-nine percent (39%) say that’s unlikely. This includes 36% who say it’s Very Likely they broke the law to get Trump and 24% who say it’s Not At All Likely. These findings are virtually unchanged in surveying since February of last year. (To see survey question wording, click here.)”

1*How closely have you followed news reports about the Justice Department inspector general’s investigation of the FBI – very closely, somewhat closely, not very closely or not at all?

2*How likely is it that senior federal law enforcement officials broke the law in an effort to prevent Donald Trump from winning the presidency – very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely or not at all likely?

3* How likely is it that criminal charges will be brought against senior federal law enforcement officials for their effort to prevent a Trump presidency?

4*What type of disciplinary action should be taken against senior federal law enforcement officials if they are found guilty of breaking the law to prevent a Trump presidency? Should they be jailed, fired, formally reprimanded, or should no disciplinary action be taken?

*****
Similar questions might be asked about the landing of aliens in Washington, D.C., such as:

1. How closely have you followed news reports about the landing of aliens in Washington D.C. without a visa —  very closely, somewhat closely, not very closely or not at all?

2. How likely is it that the aliens broke the law in landing in Washington, D.C. and entering the United States without a visa? – very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely or not at all?

3. How likely is it that criminal charges will be brought against aliens who landed in Washington without a visa — very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely or not at all?

4. What type of disciplinary action should be taken against aliens who landed in Washington if they are found guilty of breaking the law by entering the country without a visa? Should they be jailed, or once their superiors are contacted, fired, formally reprimanded, or should no disciplinary action be taken?

The answers to these questions would be interesting indeed, and might just tell us as much about the opinions on the alien landings and appropriate punishments as did the original Rasmussen poll.

In the past, we have endorsed the Rasmussen daily tracking poll on Trump’s job approval, because it is a poll of likely voters. The above examples suggest we now need to look closely at the wording of the questions used in the daily tracking polls.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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