Poll: What Other Countries Think of Trump’s Immigration Order

Tom H. C. Anderson
February 8th, 2017

Text Analytics PollTM Shows Australians, Brits, and Canadians  Angry About Executive Order Temporarily Barring Refugee (Part II of II)
In my previous post, we compared text analysis of results from an open-ended survey instrument with a conventional Likert-scale rating poll to assess where 3,000 Americans really stand on President Trump’s controversial executive order temporarily barring refugees and people from seven predominately-Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

Today, we’re going to share results from an identical international study that asked approx. 9,000 people—3,000 people from each of three other countries—what they think about the U.S. immigration moratorium ordered by President Trump.

But first, a quick recap…

As I noted in the previous post, polling on this issue has been pretty consistent insomuch as Americans are closely divided in support/opposition, but the majority position flips depending on the poll. Consequently, the accuracy of polling has again been called into question by pundits on both sides of the issue.

By fielding the same question first in a multiple-choice response format and a second time providing only a text comment box for responses, and then comparing results, we were able to not only replicate the results of the former but gain a much deeper understanding of where Americans really stand on this issue.

Text analysis confirmed a much divided America with those opposing the ban just slightly outnumbering (<3%) those who support the order (42% vs 39%). Almost 20% of respondents had no opinion or were ambivalent on this issue.

Bear in mind that text analysis software such as OdinText enables us to process and quantify huge quantities of comments (in this case, more than 1500 replies from respondents using their own words) in order to arrive at the same percentages that one would get from a conventional multiple-choice survey.

But the real advantage to using an open-ended response format (versus a multiple-choice) to gauge opinion on an issue like this is that the responses also tell us so much more than whether someone agrees/disagrees or likes/dislikes. Using text analytics we uncovered people’s reasoning, the extent to which they are emotionally invested in the issue, and why.

Today we will be looking a little further into this topic with data from three additional countries: Australia, Canada and the UK.

A note about multi-lingual text analysis and the countries selected for this project…

Different software platforms handle different languages with various degrees of proficiency. OdinText analyzes most European languages quite well; however, analysis of Dutch, German, Spanish or Swedish text requires proficiency in said language by the analyst. (Of course, translated results, including and especially machine-translated results, work very well with text analytics.)

Not inconspicuously, each of the countries represented in our analysis here has an English-speaking population. But this was not the primary reason that we chose them; each of these countries has frequently been mentioned in news coverage related to the immigration ban: The UK because of Brexit, Australia because of a leaked telephone call between President Trump and its Prime Minister, and Canada due to its shared border and its Prime Minister’s comments on welcoming refugees affected by the immigration moratorium.

Like our previous U.S. population survey, we used a nationally-representative sample of n=3000 for each of these countries.

Opposition Highest in Canada, Lowest in the UK

It probably does not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following this issue in the media that citizens outside of America are less likely to approve of President Trump’s immigration moratorium.

I had honestly expected Australians to be the most strongly opposed to the order in light of the highly-publicized and problematic telephone call transcript leaked last week between President Trump and the Australian Prime Minister (which, coincidentally, involved a refugee agreement). But interestingly, people from our close ally and neighbor to the north, Canada, were most strongly opposed to the executive order (67%). The UK had proportionately fewer opposing the ban than Australia (56% vs. 60%), but the numbers of people opposed to the policy in both countries significantly lagged the Canadians.
Emotions Run High Abroad
Deriving emotions from text is an interesting and effective measure for understanding people’s opinions and preferences (and more useful than the “sentiment” metrics often discussed in text analytics and, particularly, in social media monitoring circles).

The chart below features OdinText’s emotional analysis of comments for each of the four countries across what most psychologists agree constitute the eight major emotion categories:

We can see that while the single highest emotion in American comments is joy/happiness, the highest emotion in the other three countries is anger. Canadians are angriest. People in the UK and Australians exhibit somewhat greater sadness and disgust in their comments. Notably, disgust is an emotion that we typically only see rarely in food categories. Here it takes the form of vehement rejection with terms such as “sickened,” “revolting,” “vile,” and, very often, “disgusted.” It is also worth noting that in cases, people directed their displeasure at President Trump, personally.

Examples:

“Trump is a xenophobic, delusional, and narcissistic danger to the world.” – Canadian (anger)
“Most unhappy – this will worsen relationships between Muslims and Christians.” – Australian (sadness)
“It’s disgusting. You can’t blame a whole race for the acts of some extremists! How many white people have shot up schools and such? Isn’t that an act of terror? Ban guns instead. He’s a vile little man.” –Australian (disgust)

UK comments contain the highest levels of fear/anxiety:

“I am outraged. A despicable act of racism and a real worry for what political moves may happen next.” – UK (fear/anxiety)

That said, it is also important to point out that there is a sizeable group in each country who express soaring agreement to the level of joy:

“Great move! He should stop all people that promote beating of women” – Australian (joy)
“Sounds bloody good would be ok for Australia too!” – Australian (joy)
“EXCELLENT. Good to see a politician stick by his word” – UK (joy)
“About time, I feel like it’s a great idea, the United States needs to help their own people before others. If there is an ongoing war members of that country should not be allowed to migrate as the disease will spread.” – Canadian (joy)

Majority of Canadians Willing to Take Refugee Overflow
Given Canada’s proximity to the U.S., and since people from Canada were the most strongly opposed to President Trump’s executive order, this raised the question of whether Canadians would then support a measure to absorb refugees that would be denied entrance to the U.S., as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to support.

(Note: In a Jan. 31 late-night emergency debate, the Canadian Parliament did not increase its refugee cap of 25,000.)

 

A solid majority of Canadians would support such an action, although it’s worth noting that there is a significant difference between the numbers of Canadians who oppose the U.S. immigration moratorium (67%) and the number who indicated they would be willing to admit the refugees affected by the policy.

When asked a follow-up question on whether “Canada should accept all the refugees which are turned away by USA’s Trump EO 13769,” only 45% of Canadians agreed with such a measure, 33% disagreed and 22% said they were not sure.

Final Thoughts: How This Differs from Other Polls
Both the U.S. and the international versions of this study differ significantly from any other polls on this subject currently circulating in the media because they required respondents to answer the question in a text comment box in their own words, instead of just selecting from options on an “agree/disagree” Likert scale.

As a result, we were able to not only quantify support and opposition around this controversial subject, but also to gauge respondents’ emotional stake in the matter and to better understand the “why” underlying their positions.

While text analysis allows us to treat qualitative/unstructured data quantitatively, it’s important to remember that including a few quotes in any analysis can help profile and tell a richer story about your data and analysis.

We also used a substantially larger population sample for each of the countries surveyed than any of the conventional polls I’ve seen cited in the media. Because of our triangulated approach and the size of the sample, these findings are in my opinion the most accurate numbers currently available on this subject.

I welcome your thoughts!

@TomHCAnderson – @OdinText

About Tom H. C. Anderson
Tom H. C. Anderson is the founder and managing partner of OdinText, a venture-backed firm based in Stamford, CT whose eponymous, patented SAS platform is used by Fortune 500 companies like Disney, Coca-Cola and Shell Oil to mine insights from complex, unstructured and mixed data. A recognized authority and pioneer in the field of text analytics with more than two decades of experience in market research, Anderson is the recipient of numerous awards for innovation from industry associations such as CASRO, ESOMAR and the ARF. He was named one of the “Four under 40” market research leaders by the American Marketing Association in 2010. He tweets under the handle @tomhcanderson.

8 thoughts on “Poll: What Other Countries Think of Trump’s Immigration Order”

  1. I like the visual.

    Could be that Fear/Anxiety are highest in the UK because, among the countries in the study, the UK is the one with greatest proportion of immigrants from MidEast countries. I really don’t know if that qualifier happens to be the case, however.

  2. Very interesting analysis. We are going to have a closer look at your products.

    On your Canadian sample, can you confirm that it was nationally representative and that the interviews were not limited to English speakers?

  3. @Barry Great question

    So the sample is Google Consumer Surveys as I pointed out. Have used them several times before for these kind of posts, and Nate Silver speaks very highly of their accuracy for political polling.

    That said this was the first time we bought their international samples. They clearly state that it is “Online Nationally Representative and weighted across a number of variables”.

    However, I do believe it’s only English, at least I was not aware that they would do any machine translation, which could certainly have been done, but I doubt it. Have to assume it’s just English. A short coming for the Canadian sample I’m sure. Still, I assume many of the 22% of Canadians who speak French also use the Google Publisher Network and Google Play etc., and therefore are probably bilingual enough to handle a mini survey/poll even if in English?

    Either way OdinText works great on French too, or you can use machine translation. Happy to discuss a demo with your dual language data. No reason you shouldn’t be able to do these Text Analytics Polls using OdinText yourself 😉

  4. @Terry It looks like that could be part of it. It’s easy to drill into and see all the comment labeled as fear and anxiety and then further subdivide. I posted one example of fear from UK above. That comment is more in relation to fear of Trump and not knowing what he will do. But Brexit may have had an effect.

    There certainly were many in the sample though who mentioned that they were afraid of what terrorist would do as a result.

  5. Its a good analysis in your part one and two. However, going through these two posts, just thinking instead of asking this question as complete open end, we can ask the reasons after using Likert scale. It would serve the purpose. What is your opinion on it.

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