Immigration law survey done by Alabama Education Association's polling arm blasted by Republican leaders

The Birmingham News
By Kim Chandler
Friday, December 02, 2011, 8:30 AM

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- High-ranking Republicans are criticizing a poll on Alabama's new immigration law, saying the question language was flawed and biased to promote a political agenda.

The poll by The Capital Survey Research Center, the polling arm of the Alabama Education Association, asked survey participants what they thought should be done about the law. Twenty-one percent said the law should be repealed, and 35 percent said it should be revised. Forty percent said the law should be left as is.

But the question also described the law as one of the strictest in the country, costly to taxpayers to enforce and noted that "religious, business, farming, law enforcement and education groups are pressuring the Legislature to revise the law."

"We've known the teachers union has been cooking polls for Democrats for years, and this time they got caught red-handed. Even after trying to skew the results, the poll still shows a strong majority of Alabamians support cracking down on illegal immigration and want to make this law work," House Majority Leader Micky Hammon, R-Decatur said. Hammon sponsored the immigration legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia hills, called the poll "shameful."

"You have to seriously question the credibility of any pollster who would pass off such distorted results as being objective," Waggoner said.

However, Gerald Johnson, director of the Capital Survey Research Center, defended the poll. Johnson said he was trying to gauge what voters thought Alabama should do next given the controversy surrounding the law.

"Given this is where we are, what do you want to do? That seems to be the only way to ask the question," Johnson said.

Johnson said his polling data indicates the vast majority of Alabamians want something done about immigration, but there is disagreement on whether the Alabama law is the answer.

"Everybody knows it is a mess," Johnson said.

But Johnson's numbers also indicate a majority of Alabamians support the immigration law. Johnson said he asked a general question on support of the law without any descriptions seeking to find if voters supported various initiatives by legislators.

Forty percent of respondents said they strongly support the immigration act passed by the Alabama Legislature and 20 percent said they somewhat support it, according to Johnson.

Thirty-five percent somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the law, he said.

Jim McLaughlin, whose Blauvelt, N.Y., firm has done considerable polling work for Alabama Republicans, said the question was biased and should have been asked without qualifiers.

"This was clearly biased to get a certain response," McLaughlin said. ... _by_a.html