About One in Three Hispanics Say Immigration Is Nation's Top Problem

by Joseph Carroll

Whites, blacks, and Hispanics most often mention Iraq war as the "most important problem"

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- According to the latest Gallup Poll, Americans say the war in Iraq is "the most important problem facing the country today." About one in three Americans mention the war as the nation's top problem right now, much higher than any other single issue. Healthcare, economic issues, immigration, and dissatisfaction with the government (including corruption) are the next most highly ranked concerns for Americans. The current levels of perceptions about these problems are similar to last month.

Gallup updates public perceptions of the most important problem on a monthly basis. Last month's measure (taken on a poll that included large oversamples of blacks and Hispanics) found whites, blacks, and Hispanics all mentioning Iraq more than any other issue as the nation's top problem. But, Hispanics were much more likely than blacks or whites to say immigration is the most important problem facing the country. Hispanics' concerns about immigration have increased substantially in the past two years. Prior to 2006, few people in these groups mentioned immigration as a top problem.

Overall Results

The July 12-15, 2007, poll asked Americans to name, in their own words, "the most important problem facing the country today." Thirty-five percent of Americans tell Gallup that the war in Iraq is the most important problem at this time. This is followed by 16% who mention different economic concerns such as the general state of the economy, fuel prices, unemployment, or inflation; 14% who mention healthcare issues; 11% who mention immigration; and 8% who mention government dissatisfaction or corruption.

Other issues Americans mention include terrorism, morality and ethics, education, and poverty or homelessness.

Over the course of the year, Americans' perceptions about the top problems facing the country have not shown much change, but there has been some fluctuation in the results.

o The war in Iraq has consistently been the dominant concern for Americans, with the percentage mentioning the war ranging between 33% and 38% since January.

o Americans' levels of concern about various economic issues are down this month, back to January levels. At the start of the year, 17% of Americans mentioned some aspect of the economy as the nation's top problem. This increased to the low- to mid-20% range from February through June, and, now, economic mentions are at 16% this month.

o The 14% of Americans currently mentioning healthcare issues as the nation's top problem is the highest Gallup has recorded this year. This percentage ranged between 8% and 10% during the first six months of the year.

o Immigration concerns gradually increased during the course of the year, from a 6% in January to a high of 15% last month. Now, this percentage has dropped back to 11%.

 

Most Important Problem by Racial and Ethnic Groups

Whites, blacks, and Hispanics do not differ greatly in their perceptions of the most important problems facing the country. This is according to Gallup's annual Minority Rights and Relations poll that was conducted June 4-24, 2007, and interviewed 2,388 adults nationwide, including 868 non-Hispanic whites, 802 non-Hispanic blacks, and 502 Hispanics. The total sample is weighted to reflect the proper proportions of each group in the U.S. population. About one-quarter of the interviews with Hispanics were conducted in Spanish, with the remainder in English.

The war in Iraq is, by far, the dominant issue for all three groups, mentioned by 31% of whites, 41% of blacks, and 43% of Hispanics. Economic concerns and healthcare are also among the top issues for the three groups. Immigration is a key concern for whites and Hispanics, less so for blacks. Blacks' top five issues also include poverty, hunger, or homelessness and crime, and whites' list includes government dissatisfaction and corruption.

Top Five Issues Named as "Most Important Problem" Among Racial/Ethnic Groups
June 4-24, 2007

Non-Hispanic whites

Blacks

Hispanics

1. The war in Iraq (31%)

1. The war in Iraq (41%)

1. The war in Iraq (43%)

2. Economy (20%)

2. Economy (28%)

2. Immigration (31%)

3. Immigration (17%)

3. Healthcare (11%)

3. Economy (21%)

4. Healthcare (14%)

4. Poverty (10%)

4. Healthcare (5%)

5. Government corruption (10%)

5. Crime (7%)

5. Government corruption (5%)

 

 

6. Crime (5%)

Whites, blacks, and Hispanics show variation in the frequency with which they mention five issues: immigration, the war in Iraq, healthcare, the economy, and poverty.

Most Important Problem Facing Country Today
Results by Race and Ethnic Groups

June 4-24, 2007



Non-
Hispanic
Whites

Blacks

Hispanics

%

%

%

War in Iraq

31

41

43

Economic issues

20

28

21

Immigration/Licenses for undocumented people

17

6

31

Healthcare issues

14

11

5

Government dissatisfaction/corruption

10

5

5

Terrorism/National security

7

3

4

Ethics/Moral decline

6

5

1

Education

5

5

1

Poverty/Hunger/Homelessness

4

10

4

Immigration . Nearly one in three Hispanics (31%) mention either immigration or licenses for undocumented people as the most important problem facing the country right now. Only 17% of whites and just 6% of blacks mention this.

Gallup has tracked Hispanics' views of the "most important problem" since 2001, and the percentage mentioning immigration has risen dramatically throughout the past few years. From 2001 through 2003, fewer than 1 in 10 Hispanics said immigration was the top problem. This percentage edged up to 10% in 2005, then jumped to 21% in 2006, and now increased to 31% in the latest poll.

There was relatively little difference among whites, blacks, and Hispanics in views that immigration was the country's top problem from 2001 through 2005. Then, last year, this percentage increased among whites and Hispanics, but not blacks. This year, immigration concerns rose again among Hispanics, but stayed the same among blacks and whites.

The war in Iraq . Although the war in Iraq is the top problem for all three groups, Hispanics (43%) and blacks (41%) mention it much more frequently than whites (31%). Perceptions that the war in Iraq is the most important problem facing the country are now at their highest levels among all three groups since the war started in 2003.

Healthcare . Only 5% of Hispanics say healthcare is the nation's top problem, lower than the 14% of whites and 11% of blacks who mention the issue.

Economic issues . Blacks (28%) are slightly more likely than whites (20%) or Hispanics (21%) to mention some aspect of the economy, such as fuel prices, jobs or unemployment, or the cost of living, as the most important problem.

Poverty, hunger, homelessness . Ten percent of blacks say poverty, hunger, or homelessness is the nation's top problem, slightly higher than the 4% of whites and Hispanics who mention this.

There are more minor variations among the three groups in mentions of government dissatisfaction, terrorism and national security, ethics and moral decline, and education.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,001 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted July 12-15, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Results are based on telephone interviews with 2,388 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted June 4-24, 2007, including oversamples of blacks and Hispanics that are weighted to reflect their proportions in the general population. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.  

For results based on sample of 868 non-Hispanic whites, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points.

For results based on sample of 802 blacks, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points.

For results based on sample of 502 Hispanics, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points. (138 out of the 502 interviews with Hispanics were conducted in Spanish).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.



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