Scott Johnson is wrong. "Scott Rasmussen" did not publish "a poll [on Friday] morning that found 58 percent of voters favor the abolition of birthright citizenship." Birthright citizenship simply means that one acquired citizenship by being born within US jurisdiction (or in most cases, to US parents). Most US citizens are birthright citizens: I'm a birthright citzen of the US and I bet that Scott Johnson is as well.
Rasmussen did publish a poll on Friday morning that found that 58 percent of voters opposed birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens; however, that's very different from saying that 58 percent of voters think that birthright citzenship should be abolished.
I'm not here to pile on Johnson; Andrew Sullivan and Adam Serwer have already done that. (Though I think that their criticisms are overstated: There's tribalism everywhere, kemosabe.) I mention Johnson's post because I want to head off in a couple different directions.
First, it's kinda fun to imagine that 58 percent of US citizens --including Scott Johnson -- really want to abolish birthright citizenship. Johnson is essentially saying that his own citzenship is illegitimate. I assume that wasn't his intention. (But it's not too late to join the Starship Troopers and earn your citizenship, Scott!)
Second, this poll is a reminder for me that immigration is one of those big, sloganee things that, drilled down, gets really quite nuanced. The numbers might well change if the question was, "How many folks want to abolish birthright citizen for legal residents (but noncitizens)?" Regrettably, though, no one is polling the nuance. That question, for instance, wasn't asked.
It gets more confusing. Although 58 percent of voters want to abolish birthright citizenship for illegal aliens, "[s]ixty percent (60%) of voters favor a welcoming immigrant policy that excludes only national security threats, criminals and those who would come here to live off our welfare system." Honestly, though, what a crappy question. What is really being tested when a question asking about welcoming immigrants excludes immigrants "who would come here to live off our welfare system"? At the 30,000 foot level, this kind of qualification is like polling people about whether or not they would like to have a nice cookie "that doesn't have ants in it." Umm, yes, sign me up for that cookie, and leave all those anty cookies back on the shelf.
And here we get to the (potential) ugly: Intended or not, I suspect that this disclaimer playing off fears that Mexican migrants use a lot of welfare benefits -- and skewing the response. It's possible that all we've really established is that 60% of voters want to welcome immigrants, so long as they ain't Mexican.
I'd love to see a poll in which 60% of Americans say that they want a lot more legal immigration, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, and all the rest of that good stuff. I would love to normalize labor migration between the US and Mexico so migrants don't have to live in the shadows. My heart might jump three sizes that day. But I'm not buying I'm in the majority, yet.