Sociology professor presents research on public opinion at national conference

The American Association of Public Opinion Research recently awarded Merrimack College Sociology Department assistant professor Daniel E. Herda a grant to underwrite his trip to its 71st annual conference held in Austin, Texas where he presented his public opinion research on American's perceptions of immigrants.

The association awards Burns “Bud” Roper Fellow awards so that promising young professionals whose primary work is related to survey research or public opinion can attend the annual conferences.

“They view me as a promising young public opinion scholar and gave me an award to participate in the conference,” Herda said after returning from the conference.

Herda decided to look at attitudes toward immigrants after hearing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stereotype immigrants as drug dealers and rapists. Using a faculty development grant, he started his research last summer.

His quantitative research looks for patterns in data. Data for his latest research was drawn from Transatlantic Trends

“What I research specifically is when people are wrong about immigrants,” Herda said.

Over 60 percent of Americans believe the typical immigrant is in the United States illegally but only about 25 percent are undocumented, Herda said while citing statistics provided by Pew Research and the Department of Homeland Security.s

“But if you ask most respondents, they think immigrants are here illegally,” Herda said.

Perceptions of immigration issues can affect politics, including the presidential elections, and enactment of laws that could help immigrants.

“The research will hopefully move us toward correcting perceptions,” Herda said.

Herda just finished his second year on Merrimack’s faculty. He worked at the University of California – Davis as a post-doctoral lecturer previously.



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