DACA, Fall 2017 Articles, Immigration, Misc, Politics, Trump

NC State Students Reject DACA DEAL

Amidst reports of negotiations between President Trump and Democratic Congressional leaders over the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Pack Poll asked students in our non-probability panel, “Would you approve or disapprove of a deal between President Trump and Congress passing DACA into law in exchange for funding to build more walls on the Mexican-American border?”

State students say they would reject such a deal.  Nearly 63% of respondents disapproved of the proposed compromise compared to 24% percent of respondents that approved of the hypothetical agreement.  Furthermore, 44% of students said they strongly disapproved of the compromise as opposed to only 6% that strongly approved.

Responses to the survey differed significantly by political affiliation.  Democrats overwhelmingly rejected a compromise with 77% disapproving of funding “Trump’s Wall” in exchange for protection for DREAMERS.  Amongst Republicans, 42% expressed approval of the compromise whereas 48% disapproved of the theoretical arrangement.

Democrats were fairly uniform in their responses with 60% strongly disapproving of the deal.  Conversely, Republicans appeared more divided with only 26% expressing strong disapproval, and 14% stating strong approval.

Compared to State students, the general adult population seems slightly more supportive towards a potential compromise.  According to a national poll, 33% of adults in the general population say a bill on DACA should be part of a more comprehensive bill that includes border security measures.  Approximately 42% of Republicans agreed with the statement while only 28% of national Democrats wanted protection for DREAMERS to be packaged within a broader immigration bill.  Most Democrats thought DACA should be resolved in a distinct bill.

But despite the slight difference in margins, the implications of the findings are the same:  Americans are not eager to strike a grand bargain over DACA.  Ultimately, Republican demands to reject any form of “amnesty” coupled with liberal opposition to any deal including a border wall may preclude any compromise over DACA.

A Toplines report for all survey questions, and results, is available here: DACA Poll Toplines


Almost 700 students were asked to take this survey and 243 completed it.  However, we cannot report a margin of sampling error for this survey because our results come from on a non-probability sample.  Most of our surveys adhere to the theoretical principles of probability sampling, such as when every NCSU student has a non-zero and equal chance of being randomly invited to take a survey (and nearly all we contact respond to it).  Instead, only certain students were asked to take this survey about DACA.

Our results about DACA come from students who previously agreed to be sent our future surveys.  In short, they chose us, non-randomly, so we can’t know for sure if they “think like” most students.  If respondents are not selected according to probability theory, it isn’t possible to calculate traditional diagnostic statistics about a survey, such as the margin of sampling error.

Most industry professionals today, however, agree that the margin of sampling error is overrated for evaluating the validity of polling results; if only 20% (or less!) of students respond to an invitation to take a survey, even when they were contacted at random, the subsequent sample doesn’t conform to the assumptions of probability theory.  We could present advanced statistics about the likely representativeness of our sample, but the benefit of generating those stats is outweighed by their complicatedness.

Instead, we argue that in general we’ve learned that our panel of interested survey takers does a good job of mimicking a random sample of State students. Over the past two semesters, we’ve tested whether differences exists between results we obtain from the non-probability panel compared to a truly random draw.  So far, we don’t observe significant differences of opinions asked among students contacted the different methods.  Past results suggests that our results for students’ opinions about DACA are broadly representative of what most undergraduates at NCSU think about DACA.

Nevertheless, we might have overestimated State’s support for DACA.  More of our respondents call themselves “Democrat” than is probably true for all undergraduates, and Democrats are more supportive of DACA.  Since political partisanship is a fluid attitude and not a fixed characteristic, like age, we can’t be certain about the “true” percentage of Democrats (or Republicans).  Thus, without knowing more about the fixed traits of our DACA sample (we did not ask more questions about their demographics), nor being certain our sample is “too Democratic,” we do not attempt to weight/adjust our data to known properties about NCSU undergraduates.

For additional information about best practices for reporting on the precision of non-probability sampling, you can watch this “debate” and/or read this guidance for how to report on results from non-probability samples.

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