[NOTE: This post has been UPDATED]
Last spring a seemingly spontaneous eruption of Asian American opposition in California to affirmative action in college admissions, i.e., lowering admission standards for black and Hispanics and thus in effect raising them for Asians, caught Democrats by surprise and forced them to scuttle their proposed repeal of Prop. 209.
Now comes a new Field Poll from California indicating just how afraid Democrats, liberals, and their client interest groups are of this Asian American opposition. What is striking about the survey is not what it found but what the Field organization was paid by the National Asian American Survey to seek. Here is the question NAAS paid to have included on the Field poll:
Do you favor or oppose affirmative action programs designed to help blacks, women and other minorities get better jobs and education?
This is rather like an organization claiming to conduct independent political research attempting to discover voter attitudes toward political parties by asking “Do you favor of oppose the Democratic Party’s programs designed to protect blacks, Hispanics, and gays from discrimination, promote full employment, and resist attempts to outlaw contraceptives?”
Actually, the Field Poll did find declining Asian American support for even the deceptively tenditious definition of affirmative action. Imagine what the result would have been if the question had been designed to solicit opinion about affirmative action as it is actually practiced, such as:
“Do you prefer: a) lowering admission requirements for blacks and Hispanics in order to promote ‘diversity” or: b) judging all applicants, regardless of race or ethnicity, by the same standards?”
“Would you favor ‘affirmative action’ if you believed its purpose and effect were to increase the numbers of blacks and Hispanics and reduce the number of Asian Americans admitted to California’s selective colleges and universities?”
“Would you favor ‘affirmative action’ if you believed its purpose and effect were to increase the numbers of Filipino-, Cambodian-, and Hmong-Americans and reduce the number of Chinese-, Japanese-, and Korean-Americans admitted to California’s selective colleges and universities?”
UPDATE 27 Sept.
I should have known better than to write the above before checking to see if Roger Clegg had written anything on Field’s embarrssing (to Field) survey question on affirmative action, or waited until he did. Sure enough, he has, here, asking whether that loaded poll question was
objective or simply an attempt to get the result the professor wanted? A more objective question would be: “Do you believe there should be discrimination or preference on the basis of race, ethnicity or sex in deciding who is admitted to public universities, awarded public contracts and hired for state and local employment?”
That question would more fairly mirror the language in Proposition 209 that was at issue here.
“And, based on many other surveys,” Clegg concludes, “it would not have been likely to lead to the positive response” sought and paid for by the pro-preference interest group.