The Border Effect: An Examination of News Use and Immigration Opinion in Border and Non-Border States
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Driven in large part by the outsized role of undocumented immigration as an issue in the 2016 presidential election and beyond, and as a contemporary issue in state-level politics, this study was interested in identifying the relationship between political identity, media use, and the role of residency -- specifically, the role of border-state residency -- on attitudes about immigration. Two studies -- one using a substantial secondary data set from a national biennial survey and a second, original survey, found strong links between party identity, selective media exposure, and attitudes on immigration. Republicans are significantly likely to sort themselves by media platform and by specific media outlet, especially to conservative talk radio, cable television news, and online political blogs, and to avoid traditional objective sources like national newspapers and broadcast television news. Support for, or opposition to, immigration is largely predicted by party identification and media selection. Importantly, border-state residency was found to moderate the effect. Texans in the 2016 survey were significantly more empathetic to undocumented immigrants from Latin America than were Ohioans, and this effect held even within party identity and selective media use. But one year into the Trump presidency, public opinion had shifted. In the 2018 study, Texans were shown to report less tolerance for immigration, even on identical issues. A final finding reveals that the viewing of local news in newspapers and on television correlates with more oppositional views of immigration.