Roy Beck's picture


  by  Roy Beck

Amid reports that the White House is wrestling over whether to cap next year's refugee admissions at 50,000 or a lower number, a national poll of likely voters found that most would prefer a lower number. And most of them prefer MUCH lower.

The wording of poll questions and the choices provided for answers are always important to know. Many news stories fail to provide them when reporting paraphrases of polling. Here is the exact wording for this Pulse Opinion Research survey:

On the issue of helping refugees, the U.S. government has settled an average of 63,000 refugees in local U.S. communities every year for the last decade. Next year how many refugees should the United States admit -- more than 100,000, 75000, 50000, 25000, fewer than 25000, or none and instead assist refugees in safe zones close to their home countries?"

The scientific survey of 1,000 voters likely to vote in next year's midterm congressional elections found them answering in this way:

18% Admit more than 100,000 refugees next year
9% Admit 75,000
11% Admit 50,000
5% Admit 25,000
8% Admit fewer than 25,000
39% Admit none and instead assist refugees in safe zones close to their home countries
10% Not sure

Refugee resettlement agencies and others are arguing for a level of at least 75,000, but the poll taken on Aug. 24-25 found little support among likely voters as a whole.

27% of all likely voters preferred 75,000 or more

11% chose 50,000 as the preferred level

52% preferred 25,000 or less

Church groups dominate among the national non-profit agencies who are paid by the government to resettle refugees in local communities. But support for their preferred floor of 75,000 is very low among voters who identify with the three main church groups.


14% of Evangelicals
27% of Protestants
20% of Catholics
40% of Others

27% of Whites
24% of Blacks
27% of Hispanics
31% of Other Ethnicities

34% of Voters in Major Cities
33% of Voters in Suburbs
24% of Voters in Small Cities, Towns & Rural

33% of College Graduates
17% of Non-college Graduates

STRONG SUPPORT FOR CUTTING AT LEAST TO 50,000 (but most of those voters want NONE

The President is required each year to report to Congress on a ceiling for how many refugees will be resettled in the next year. Congress can accept or reject. The number is used for appropriation purposes.

The poll suggests that Pres. Trump is on popular ground to set next year's number at a level somewhat lower than any request from a President for many years.

But the reported likely White House choice of 50,000 doesn't get a lot of support as a favorite level of resettlements. By far the most popular option among likely voters is NONE, which is the favorite choice of 4 of every 10 respondents who said they always or usually vote in mid-term congressional elections that don't have presidential candidates.

Part of the popularity of the NONE option may have been the wording that reminded people of where most refugees are. The choice was: "none and instead assist refugees in safe zones close to their home countries."

Of course, regardless of the numerical choice, most of the world's some 20 million refugees would have to be helped somewhere else. But the popularity of the NONE option may indicate that many Americans are hearing the arguments that the money spent on resettling refugees in the United States can be used to help at least 10 times as many refugees in their home regions.

The polarization of voters can be seen in the fact that the top two choices in the survey were the lowest and highest options: None (39%) and more than 100,000 (18%).

But among voters who are most passionate about immigration issues, listing them as in their top 3 issues:

  • 55% chose NONE
  • only 9% chose "more than 100,000"

NumbersUSA commissioned this survey of 1,000 likely midterm voters . It was conducted on Aug. 24-25, 2017 by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC which describes itself as an "independent public opinion research firm using automated polling methodology and procedures licensed from Rasmussen Reports, LLC. The margin of sampling error for the full sample was +/- 3.0% percentage points with a 95% level of confidence."

ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA

Updated: Wed, Sep 27th 2017 @ 1:15pm EDT

NumbersUSA's blogs are copyrighted and may be republished or reposted only if they are copied in their entirety, including this paragraph, and provide proper credit to NumbersUSA. NumbersUSA bears no responsibility for where our blogs may be republished or reposted. The views expressed in blogs do not necessarily reflect the official position of NumbersUSA.