Wednesday, February 27, 2019

More Evidence of Census Concerns

The public is feeling uneasy about the 2020 census. A Census Bureau survey of attitudes toward the 2020 census found only 68 percent of the public reporting that they would be very or extremely likely to answer the census. This figure is considerably smaller than the 86 percent who felt that way in a survey prior to the 2010 census. And that's not all. A recent Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)/Atlantic survey probed the public's attitude toward the census with two questions—one about whether the census would be used to check people's immigration status and the other about how the potential citizenship question would affect the census count. The public's answers raise alarm bells.

Question 1: "Do you think the government will use...Census records to check on an individual's immigration status, or do you think this information will only be used for counting the population?"

39% said they don't know how census records will be used
33% said census records would be used to check immigration status
just 26% said census records would be used only to count the population

Question 2: "For the first time, the 2020 Census may include a new question that asks individuals if they are legal citizen of the United States. In your opinion, how likely do you think it is that the Census will NOT get an accurate count because some people will be worried about answering this question?"

53% said it would be very likely that the census would not be accurate
23% said it would be somewhat likely the census would not be accurate
11% said they didn't know how it would affect the count
only 10% said it was somewhat/very unlikely that the census count would not be accurate

Interestingly, Republicans and Democrats are in agreement about the harm of a citizenship question —81 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats believe it is somewhat/very likely to result in an inaccurate count. Let's hope the Supreme Court has the same concern when it hears arguments about the citizenship question later this year.

Source: PRRI/The Atlantic 2018 Pluralism Survey, American Democracy in Crisis: The Fate of Pluralism in a Divided Nation

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