Agenda Setting, Public Opinion, and the Issue of Immigration Reform

30 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2007

See all articles by Johanna Dunaway

Johanna Dunaway

Sam Houston State University

Marisa Abrajano

University of California, San Diego - Department of Political Science

Regina Branton

Rice University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 13, 2007

Abstract

While the importance of agenda setting has been well-documented (Baumgartner and Jones 1995, Iyengar 1991), it is unclear whether its affect holds for issues that may not be salient to a significant portion of the public. We explore this puzzle by examining the issue of illegal immigration, as it is one policy that traditionally impacts those living in states along the U.S.-Mexico border more so than for those residing in non-border states. Our analyses of newspaper coverage of immigration and Gallup public opinion data over a twelve-month period (January-December 2006) provide considerable support for the agenda-setting theory. The volume of news coverage did increase following the protests and as such, the public perceived immigration as an important problem facing the country. These findings hold for individuals residing in both border and non-border states, suggesting that the power of agenda-setting holds across issues that may not be nationally salient to the entire American public.

Keywords: media, immigration, public opinion

Suggested Citation

Dunaway, Johanna and Abrajano, Marisa and Branton, Regina, Agenda Setting, Public Opinion, and the Issue of Immigration Reform (September 13, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1017846 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1017846

Johanna Dunaway

Sam Houston State University ( email )

1803 Ave I
Huntsville, TX 77341
United States

Marisa Abrajano (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

Regina Branton

Rice University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States

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