Agenda Setting, Public Opinion, and the Issue of Immigration Reform
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Objective: Agenda-setting theory is used to motivate hypotheses about how media coverage of immigration influences public perceptions of its importance. The authors seek to offer a more complete explanation of public opinion on immigration by exploring differences in the effects of immigration news in border and nonborder states. Method: This article employs content analyses of newspaper coverage of immigration and Gallup public opinion data over a 12-month period (January-December 2006). Respondents' identification of immigration as a " Most Important Problem" is modeled as a conditional relationship between border state/nonborder state residence and media coverage, ethnic context, and individual-level demographics. Results: Media attention to immigration is greater in border states than in nonborder states; as a result, residents of border states are more likely to identify immigration as a most important problem than are residents of nonborder states. Conclusions: The analyses point to the importance of geography and news coverage in explanations of public opinion on immigration. 2010 by the Southwestern Social Science Association.