Did the Utah Compact actually change attitudes about immigration?

The publicity about the Compact, including the Compact’s moderate stance, likely helped move active Mormons and strong Republicans toward more opposition to an Arizona-style law.

Can public opinion on controversial issues moderate or change in response to public debates? Political science has long studied1 the effects of endorsements and other elements of campaigns on public opinion and policy outcomes.

In mid November last year a number of individuals and organizations issued the Utah Compact, a statement addressing immigration reform. Although not a signatory of the compact, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also issued its own statement of support for the Compact.

Did the Utah Compact actually sway Utah public opinion? And, if so, who was more likely to change their views?

Two Utah Voter Polls (UVP) help provide some insight to these questions. The UVP is a periodic survey of Utah voters who were randomly sampled for participation in an Internet survey panel through an invitation during the Utah Colleges Exit Poll.

In both October 2010 and January 2011, survey respondents were asked the following question:

“As you may know, the state of Arizona recently passed a law that gives the police the power to question someone they have already stopped or arrested about their legal status in the country. Under the law, the police may turn over confirmed illegal aliens to federal custody. Currently, similar legislation is being sponsored in Utah. To what extent do you oppose or favor such a law?”

UVP: Percent favoring Arizona-style immigration reform

Opinion modestly shifted from October to January with those who “Strongly Favor” tough enforcement decreasing nearly 9 percentage points while those who “Strongly Oppose” an Arizona-style law increasing by nearly 7 percentage points and those who “Somewhat Oppose” increasing by about 4 percentage points.

Who changed their mind?

The real strength of the survey is that about 170 of the same respondents participated in both surveys. By looking only at these 170 respondents, we can get a feel for what types of people were more likely to change their minds between October and January.

Of these 170 people, most (61%) gave the same answer in both October and January. Of those who changed their minds, most (27%) moved toward opposing an Arizona-style immigration bill. Only half as many (12%) moved toward supporting an Arizona-style immigration bill.

Before going further, it is important to emphasize that this analysis examines attitude change. It does not predict who will favor or oppose an Arizona-style law. However, it does predict who is most likely to adjust their position on the issue.

Using advanced statistical techniques, we found that self-identified “very active Mormons” and Republicans were most likely to change their minds during this period. As you can see from the previous figure, our question used a 5-point scale ranging from “strongly oppose” to “strongly favor.” Other things being equal, we found that a “very active Mormon” was likely to move 0.50 points (on average) further toward opposing an Arizona-style bill than a “less than very active Mormon.” Likewise, we found that a self-identified “strong Republican” was likely to move 0.55 points further toward opposing an Arizona-style bill than an “independent leaning Republican.”

Putting it together, then, we found that respondents who considered themselves both “very active Mormon” and “strong Republican” were likely to move 1.05 points further toward opposing an Arizona-style bill than respondents who considered themselves “less than very active Mormons” who were “independent leaning Republicans.”

Note that we are comparing self-identified very active Mormons to those who are less than very active Mormons, and we are comparing strong Republicans to independents who lean Republicans. We found virtually no movement among Democrats and non-Mormons.

Statistical geeks can read further details of our analysis here: Analysis: Immigration opinions and the Utah Compact (pdf).

Did the Utah Compact matter?

The most important immigration-related event between October and January was the Utah Compact and the LDS Church’s statement of support. The publicity about the Compact, including the Compact’s moderate stance, likely helped move active Mormons and strong Republicans toward more opposition to an Arizona-style law.

It is impossible to separate the effect of the Utah Compact from the LDS Church’s support in the model. Both occurred on the same day and in the same direction. But the model suggests that some voters received the signals sent by prominent political, religious, and business leaders who signed the Compact, along with the LDS Church’s support.

Jordan Stauss, an undergraduate research assistant and political science major at BYU, contributed to this post.

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About Quin Monson

Quin Monson is Associate Professor of Political Science and a Senior Scholar with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University.
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2 Responses to Did the Utah Compact actually change attitudes about immigration?

  1. Fred says:

    The Utah Compact, starts with this principle:
    ” Immigration is a federal policy issue between the U.S. government and other countries—not Utah and other countries. ”

    As you are aware, the immigration bills crafted during the session and passed did not follow this principle, and in fact, many that voted for the bills, reject this principle, including those voting for either or both HB 116 and HB 469.

    HB 469?
    HB 469, “Immigration Related Amendment” by Rep. Dougall. If it is allowed to work, it may just solve most of all the immigration challenges we face. I believe it makes HB 116 obsolete.

    So what does HB 469 do?

    “This bill modifies general government provisions to enact the Utah Pilot Sponsored Resident Immigrant Program Act.”

    The bill that was signed in to law can be found here:

    Why is the bill important?

    It throws out over 100 years of US case law about immigration, creates a way for Utahns to sponsor people from around the world, providing the immigrants are not in the US illegally.

    The Constitution of the United States grants authority to the federal government to regulate foreign commerce and to adopt a uniform rule of naturalization. [Citizenship not Immigration]

    From the Constitutional Note for HB 116 and HB 469:
    “The Constitution of the United States grants authority to the federal government to regulate foreign commerce and to adopt a uniform rule of naturalization. The United States Supreme Court has also found inherent federal authority to regulate immigration on the basis of federal sovereignty and the power to engage in foreign affairs: this is sometimes referred to as the “plenary power,” which in more recent years has been made subject to certain constitutional limits. See, e.g., Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001); Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 698 (1893); Hernandez-Carrera v. Carlson, 547 F.3d 1237 (10th Cir. 2009).”

    HB 469 claims that there is NOTHING in the US Constitution that grants the Federal Government power over Immigration and prior to the Case Law noted above, the States had that Power.

    It tells the Federal Government to protect our borders, create rules for granting citizenship, but as the State of Utah, we can take care of immigration, thank you very much.

    The sponsoring principle of HB 469 provides a limiting factor of how fast immigrants can come, makes sure they do not place a larger burden than we can handle, and is more like co-signing a friend’s car loan. It is the truly unique piece of the puzzle. With it, you don’t need HB 116. Someone here illegally could find a sponsor, go home and come back with permission.

    Do you remember when you had to wait in line to buy tickets to a movie, and then wait in line before going in? If you came to the theater and the show was full, you could buy a ticket to a later show. That was before you could order them at home, and know then where your seat was and what time to come to the theater.

    You can’t let everyone show up for the same movie or there would be no place to sit, and you do need some reasonable security and rules.

    Why do we make immigration more complicated?

    If we are going to have a line for people to come to this country, you can’t reward those that bypass the line. They need to be sent to the back of the line. That doesn’t mean you should stop treating them like people.

    Is HB 469 done? No, we will need to work with the Federal Government to make it work. They don’t have to do anything, other than follow the US Constitution and allow it to work.

    For those that are worried about getting a waiver for HB 116, my suggestion is: don’t.

    Let HB 116 be replaced with HB 469 as it rolls out and is expanded. HB 469 requires the Governor to act prior to July 1, 2013 and initially only runs until June 30, 2018. With some work, it could start in a matter of months.

  2. Brittanicus says:

    State of Arizona is thriving?

    Seems a revelation has been born in the Great Canyon State of Arizona, as the Leftist Czars and open border zealots were completely wrong about their economy diving? The Obama administration immediately ran to the federal courts, and Judge Bolton issued an injunction, halting any hope of the SB 1070 policing law going into effect immediately, while the law was litigated and then jumping to the infamous 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The screaming banshees from the Liberal indoctrinated cause, advocacy groups whose agenda is a commitment to no borders at all, swore blind that Arizona would suffer economic devastation? Its a one sided to me when the Dept of In-Justice throws the book at Arizona, but remains silent when Utah legislators are pushing for a unconstitutional Guest worker program. These included massive real estate foreclosures, home buyers would give the state a wide berth, with boycotts that would hurt the State and with a main objective that illegal alien families would flee the state, leaving economic uncertainty?

    So the Liberal progressive couldn’t have been more wrong as Arizona is prospering. The 2010 Census has proved beyond any shadow of doubt, that unlike the illegal alien Sanctuary State of California, and equally opened to occupation Nevada, that Arizona is bristling with new arrivals. It seems that Canadian citizens frustrated with the inclement weather up North are pouring in to take advantage of the low priced homes and the depressed US dollar. Outside of Nevada, the newest illegal immigrant refuge State, Arizona is a rapidly growing in population. Lee McPheters, director of the J.P. Morgan Chase Economic Outlook Center has predicted that the State of Arizona’s population will increase by close to two percent this year.

    What actually happened to retort the silly boycotts and other negative activity, thousands of patriotic citizens and permanent residence throughout the nation, disgusted with the Liberal agenda, decided to deliberately reserve Arizona as their vacation spot. The largest haven for illegal alien households, Los Angeles County issued a resolution against the financially hurting State of Arizona, which got in the craw of millions of Americans. Antonio Villaraigosa, a pro-illegal alien Mayor committed himself, to the boycott and then in retaliation Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce sent a letter stating to the city managers, saying that he would “be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation.” Los Angeles County gets 25 percent of its electricity from Arizona power plants.

    On June 29, last year Governor Jan Brewer condemned the federal government for what she calls its “continued failure to secure our international border,” and announced the unveiling of a new web site for donating money to the cause. She pointed out at this time that signs have been posted on federal property in Southern Arizona to warn people about the dangerous border. Within weeks close to $4 million in donations was received from over 43,000 Americans countrywide, with more than enough to cover the $1.5 million in costs for attorneys and fees. Currently, in the Frontier State the economy has shown little difference in service industries where illegal immigrants work, such as landscaping, fast food, roofing, building, car washes, factories and the hotel industry. Although illegal immigrants are disappearing from the state, prices have barely increased; BUT WHERE ARE THEY GOING?

    California would be my first guess? Nevada is for sure and also Utah? Colorado? These States are exhibiting naked ignorance of the war going on in America. While Arizona begins to thrive, California has to expect more crowded classrooms full of children of illegal immigrants and of course the health care emergency rooms being further clogged to its limits. If you live in these States or any State that is pandering to foreigners, they will not only see Democrat politicians scrambling to enact laws for higher taxes, but your State deficits will rise accordingly as these people look for another haven.

    Reports that SB 1070 is hurting the State economically has not taken into account the near deep recession. Since Arizona has been one of the highest growing in the Southwest, it now has one of the highest rates of home foreclosures. It has been hit harder by the recession than most of the rest of the country, except for Nevada. Arizona lost twice as many jobs as the average state during the economic decline of the past few years. Earlier last year the State of Arizona ranked 12th for job creation of the 50 states surveyed. My first wife who lives right now in Ohio, has decided to buy a home in Arizona. Not as a investor, but to live there. I have already warned her to stay well away from the border, but find a gated community.

    If you want an upper hand to stop these innocuous “Political Correctness” of our immigration laws, forced on us by the Lib-Democrats and their (seeking more votes) or Elite Republicans (cheap labor) our only real alternative is the TEA PARTY. Its overall platform is less government interference, fair taxes, and national security. Their leader’s will halt the unresponsiveness of both parties to our 14 Trillion deficits and not allow the credit ceiling to rise without assurances that government expenditure will be cut, including fraud and waste in entitlements. That a double layer fence will separate America from drug cartels and the far reaching economic immigrants pouring into America. There will be no Immigration reforms, which include amnesties of any kind; currently that means the Dream Act, Sanctuary States, chain migration, that are stealth amnesties.Another very controversial issue, is the instant citizenship infant 14th Amendment law, that must be rescinded or altered, so at least one parent is a citizen.or naturalized citizen. The 1986 Reagan/Simpson/Mazzoli bill is not broken, it was ignored and not enforced.

    We need to look after our own people, living in poverty, not the rest of the world. Low income Americans-residents of all race persuasions, are losing their jobs to discount labor. For decades now the manual workers have been replaced by people from overseas or across our borders who by being illegally hired for massive profits , places even more pressure on welfare, unemployment aid, workers compensation and public benefits. Speak-up, join the TEA PARTY and make this a central issue in coming elections. Attn: Unknown numbers of illegal aliens have been caught in different malleable States voting in our elections. If you believe that your Federal and State lawmakers are not listening to you, but catering to the open border lunatics, check out the pro-sovereignty million member plus NumbersUSA website.

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