New Polling Project To Gauge How Houstonians Feel About Immigration Policies

The project will challenge voters to think about the policies behind catchy slogans.

In Houston, thousands of protesters march against anti-immigrant policies, including family separation.

The University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs is starting a new polling project in Houston. For the first time, the school will be using “deliberative polling,” which combines polling with policy discussion to challenge how people see an issue. 

This deliberative polling project will start by calling a representative sample of 1,000 registered voters in the Houston area, asking questions about immigration.

A quarter of that group will then gather on June 15 for group discussions with a balanced panel of immigration experts. They’ll be polled again after the discussion to see how ideas may have changed.

Pablo Pinto, Director of the Center for Public Policy at the Hobby School of Public Affairs, said this project is aimed at challenging voters to think about the policies behind catchy slogans.

“It’s easier to respond with a bumper sticker type of approach to a policy problem,” he said. “It’s very different to identify the trade-offs that you have to face when you’re making informed policy decisions, which is usually what happens.” 

The poll will focus on four aspects of immigration: public safety, economics, access to higher education and legalizing undocumented people.

Findings from the project will be used in analysis identifying how opinions on immigration policy may have changed through the discussion and deliberation. 

Deliberative polling has been used in the state before to gauge opinions on wind energy. After some deliberative polling in the late 90s, researchers from the University of Texas found Texans were more likely to be willing to pay more for electricity generated by wind and solar energy after group discussions on the issue.