Sunday, February 10, 2019


Nice work, Gallup. I hope you're proud.

And here are some headlines from the online right:

All this is based on an alarmist, clickbait-y blog post from Gallup's chairman, Jim Clifton:
What If There Were 42 Million at the Border?

Here's a good question about caravans: How many more are coming?

Gallup asked the whole population of Latin America. There are 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Roughly 450 million adults live in the region. Gallup asked them, "Would you like to move to another country permanently if you could?"

A whopping 27% said "yes."

So this means roughly 120 million would like to migrate somewhere.

The next question Gallup asked was, "Where would you like to move?"

Of those who want to leave their Latin American country permanently, 35% said they want to go to the United States.

The Gallup analytics estimate is that 42 million want to come to the U.S.

Forty-two million seekers of citizenship or asylum are watching to determine exactly when and how is the best time to make the move. This suggests that open borders could potentially attract 42 million Latin Americans. A full 5 million who are planning to move in the next 12 months say they are moving to the U.S.
Gallup was pushing this story back in November. As I noted at the time; Breitbart responded then with a scare story titled "Gallup: Five Million Central Americans Want to Move to U.S."

But the Gallup story at the time included a caveat:
... unlike the caravan of Central American migrants who are currently on the move, most people who desire to migrate will never try to make their way to the U.S. Desire remains only that. Gallup typically finds that the percentage of those who have plans to move is substantially lower than the percentage who would like to move, and even fewer are actively making preparations to do so.

Central America is no different in this regard. For example, in Honduras, whose residents make up a large percentage of the migrant caravan, about half of adults (47%) say they would like to move to another country permanently if they could, but about 9% are planning to move in the next year -- and 2% are actively preparing to do so.
In the post cited by Trump, which appeared on Friday, the chairman decided to leave all that out, presumably in order to induce maximum right-wing outrage. (Also omitted: the fact that not everyone who claims to be "actively preparing" a move will actually follow through. Also, the survey doesn't distinguish those who plan to migrate in a strictly legal fashion from those who don't.)

And as a point of comparison, let's go to Gallup's Migration Research Center and see how many Americans want to leave the country.
... the 16% of Americans overall who said in 2017 and again in 2018 that they would like to permanently move to another country -- if they could -- is higher than the average levels during either the George W. Bush (11%) or Barack Obama administration (10%).
And what's their preferred destination?
In 2018, more than one in four Americans (26%) who would like to move named Canada as the place they would like to go, up from 12% in 2016.
So let's run the numbers. The population of the U.S. is approximately 328 million. If 16% want to move somewhere else permanently and 26% of the would-be movers want to go to Canada, that means more than 13 million Americans would like to move to Canada. The total population of Canada is approximately 37 million. (Maybe Canadians should build a wall.)

The estimated number of Americans who want to move to any country is more than 52 million. It was also in the tens of millions during the Bush and Obama presidencies.

But the State Department says that, as of 2016, there were only 9 million (non-military) U.S. citizens living abroad. Which means that the vast majority of the tens of millions of Americans who wanted to leave in the Bush and Obama years didn't leave. The same is likely to be true of the 52 million who want to leave now. And the same is likely to be true of the Latin Americans who say they want to leave. Even the ones who claim to be making plans aren't all going to emigrate.

But Gallup effectively recycled the numbers and got mentioned in a lot of ooga-booga stories in the xenophobic press, so it's all good, right?

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