UMass Poll analyzes Gun Control, Minimum Wage, and Immigration.

By Jaclyn Bryson

M Glasgow/Flickr

A recent national poll at the University of Massachusetts has found a general bipartisan consensus regarding the federal minimum wage, strong support for a ban on assault weapons and a general over-estimation of the number of illegal immigrants who enter the country annually, according to a University press release.

UMass Poll asked 800 their opinions regarding contemporary hot-topic issues, such as gun control, the minimum wage, the Voting Rights Act, immigration and the effectiveness of government officials.

In regards to the issue of gun control, the poll found 53 percent of Americans supported an assault weapons ban while 31 percent oppose it, according to the press release.

“It isn’t always clear what Americans have in mind when they are asked to evaluate a ban on assault weapons,” said Brian Schaffner, chair of the political science department at UMass and director of the UMass Poll, in the press release.

The poll also incorporated a visual element, which influenced how people viewed the question.

When showed an image of AR-15 rifle while being polled, respondents support for the ban was higher, at 57 percent, according to the release.

“Showing an image of an assault weapon did increase support for the ban,” said Schaffner.

On the issue of immigration the poll found Americans greatly over-estimate the number of illegal immigrants who come to the country annually. The average guess was 2.32 million, while estimates suggest that the true number is fewer than 500,000.

The same pattern was found when respondents were asked about the number of legal immigrants. According to the release, the average guess was 1.72 million, while the true number of legal immigrants who came to the U.S. in 2012 is approximately 1 million.

“These results suggest that rhetoric concerning the ‘invasion’ of illegal immigrants may have influenced the manner in which Americans think about the scale of both illegal and legal immigration to the U.S,” said Tatishe Nteta, assistant professor of political science and associate director of the UMass Poll in a UMass Poll press release.

When asked about the issue of the federal minimum wage there was bipartisan consensus that the hourly wage should be raised, according to the release.

Polled Democrats said they preferred an average minimum wage of $9.48 an hour in comparison to the lower average preferred rate by Republicans, which is $8.13. With an average consensus of $8.87 an hour, this nearly matches the recommended minimum wage of $9 an hour favored by President Barack Obama.

“There seems to be across the board support for a minimum wage that is higher than what we have today,” said Jesse Rhodes, assistant professor of political science at UMass Amherst, in the UMass poll press release. “Though how much higher is a matter of some debate as Republicans would like to see a much more modest increase than Democrats.”

In regards to government officials the poll found President Barack Obama had earned a topline favorability rate of 51 percent, against a 43 percent unfavorability rating.

Speaker of the House John Boehner received the lowest favorability rating, with only 25 percent favorability, as opposed to a 51 percent unfavorability rating, according to the press release.

The released added that Secretary of State John Kerry has earned a favorability of 41 percent against 35 percent who voted him unfavorable. However, one in four polled Americans did not have an opinion of Kerry, which, according to the release, is “a number that remains high across party ID and ideology.”

Jaclyn Bryson can be reached at [email protected]