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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

 
Predisposed To Intolerance

by digby

Perhaps I missed it, but I don't think there's been much attention paid to these survey results from the University of Washington about the tea partiers' attitudes toward race, equality and liberty. It's not surprising in the least, but it is interesting to see it spelled out this clearly:

Led by Prof. Christopher Parker, the 2010 Multi-state Survey of Race & Politics examines what Americans think about the issues of race, public policy, national politics, and President Obama, one year after the inauguration of the first African American president.

The survey is drawn from a probability sample of 1006 cases, stratified by state. The Multi-State Survey of Race and Politics included seven states, six of which were battleground states in 2008. It includes Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio as the battleground states. For its diversity and its status as an uncontested state, California was also included for comparative purposes. The study, conducted by the Center for Survey Research at the University of Washington, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent and was in the field February 8 - March 15, 2010.

Tea Party views on Equality, Liberty and Obama [ New Results posted here ]

Is America Now A Post-Racial Society? [ Full Table of Results here ]

Many believed that the election of Barack Obama brought to a close the long, painful, and ugly history of race and racism in the United States. But as the incident with Henry Louis Gates last summer, and the more recent outbursts of the Tea Party activists suggest, racial divisions remain. Which is closer to the truth? A recent survey directed by University of Washington political scientist Christopher Parker, finds that America is definitely not beyond race. For instance, the Tea Party, the grassroots movement committed to reining in what they perceive as big government, and fiscal irresponsibility, also appear predisposed to intolerance. Approximately 45% of Whites either strongly or somewhat approve of the movement. Of those, only 35% believe Blacks to be hardworking, only 45 % believe Blacks are intelligent, and only 41% think that Blacks are trustworthy. Perceptions of Latinos aren’t much different. While 54% of White Tea Party supporters believe Latinos to be hardworking, only 44% think them intelligent, and even fewer, 42% of Tea Party supporters believe Latinos to be trustworthy. When it comes to gays and lesbians, White Tea Party supporters also hold negative attitudes. Only 36% think gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt children, and just 17% are in favor of same-sex marriage.



Analysis of the data

In what follows, we explore the ways in which support for the tea party movement affects Americans’ attitudes toward groups and views on important issues. Towards that end, we begin with how support for the tea party informs their view of marginalized groups in American society. Next, we assess how support for the tea party movement informs citizens’ views on liberty, equality, and perceptions of the president. To facilitate comparisons across a range of support for the tea party movement, we divide support for the tea party into four discrete groups. Respondents were required to answer a question that asked whether or not they “strongly approved” or “somewhat approved” of the tea party, or whether or not one “somewhat approved” or “strongly disapproved” the tea party. True believers, for us, were those who strongly approved the movement (N = 117). True skeptics are those who strongly disapprove the party (N = 66). Middle of the roaders are those that either somewhat disapprove or somewhat approve (N = 171). We also include the group who claim to have never heard of the tea party movement, and so had no opinion the movement (N = 157). The last two columns include the overall average for whites, and the difference between strong supporters of the tea party who we call “true believers” and those who are in the middle, those whose answer included a “somewhat” of some kind. We believe this a reasonable benchmark group.

We begin with an assessment of how support for the tea party affects views of marginalized groups in America. As the results indicate, supporting the tea party (or refusal to do so) appears to color how people see blacks, immigrants, and gay rights (table of results: click here). In each case, across the range of support for the tea party movement, including those who had never heard of it, the true believers register relatively intolerant views. Of the nine (9) questions examined, there were only two instances in which the distance separating true believers from middle-of-the-roaders fell below 10 percentage points. On whether or not “…blacks have gotten les than they deserve,” the difference was 9 points, where true believers were more likely to disagree, and on whether “…you favor…laws to protect homosexuals against job discrimination,” where 4 points separated true believers from middle-of-the-roaders. The greatest differences emerge with questions tapping blacks, like other racial minorities, should work their way up “without any special favors,” and whether or not “gay or lesbian couples should be allowed to legally adopt.” In the first instance, true believers outpace those in the middle by 21 percentage points. In the second instance, support for gay rights, the gap separating the middle from true believers is 20 points, where the middle was more sympathetic. Overall, the average distance separating respective levels of tea party support, across various marginalized groups, after rounding, is 17% for blacks, 12% for immigrants, and 13% for gay rights, respectively.

Rather large differences also emerge upon consideration of liberty, equality, and perceptions of president Obama’s character traits. On questions that tap issues of liberty, the gap between true believers and those in the middle is greatest on the question of whether or not the “government can detain people as long as they wish without trial,” where true believers support the proposition by 25 points over those in the middle. The difference narrows to 8 points when people were asked to consider whether or not people with political beliefs at variance with the much of the country are entitled to the same rights as everyone else. Overall, for this set of questions, the mean difference is 19 points, where “true believers’” preferences appear to run counter to liberty, at least relative to those in the middle (table of results: click here)

Similar results obtain for egalitarianism, where strong supporters of the movement appear less inclined toward equality. Consider the proposition where the distance between groups is greatest. When asked to opine on whether or not “we’d have many fewer problems in this country” if people more treated more equally, only 31% of true believers agreed, versus 55% of those in the middle, reflecting a 24 percentage-point difference. The smallest difference, a 17 points, emerges when respondents were asked whether or not “our society should do whatever is necessary to ensure equal opportunity in this country,” where 81% of those in the middle agree, versus 64% of true believers. Overall, the mean difference is approximately 22 points.

Finally, at least for this round of analysis, we turn to the way in which support for the tea party informs how people perceive the president. At its most narrow, 21 points separate true believers from those who dwell in the middle, where 65% of the latter see the president as a strong leader versus 44% of the former group. The gap reaches its widest point on the issue of whether or not the president is moral: 64% of those in the middle agree that he is moral versus only 32% of true believers. Overall, the mean difference between the groups, in the way in which both perceive the president, is approximately 26 points

My beliefs about the tea party's intolerance has come in part from intuition, so it's good to see some data supporting my personal observations. I spent a good part of my life around racists and I know it when I see it. They have changed over all those years, of course. When I was a kid it was completely normal for people to use the word nigger in casual conversation. It was also completely normal to smoke cigarettes around babies. Things have changed. But that doesn't mean there is no racism and nobody smokes anymore. One of the main things that's changed is that we don't stand by silently if someone blows smoke in a baby's face --- and neither do we stand by silently when racism rears its ugly head in our politics.

I think it was delusional to believe that the election of the first black president wasn't going to result in a primal scream from the racist rump of the American polity. We can pretend that this is about something less noxious and be compassionate because they are poor deluded people who don't know any better. But the fact is that these are all well-fed, decently educated, privileged white Americans who have no respectable reason to redirect their resentments about a changing world onto racial minorities, immigrants, gays and women who behave in ways they don't approve of. I actually have enough respect for them to take them seriously and treat them as adults not small children or innocent animals. They have agency. There's no good reason not to hold them responsible for their words and actions.
For instance, here's a news story about the North South Carolina Republican primary debates:

[I]t was when the candidates were asked about a recently approved Arizona law to crack down on illegal immigration that they plowed new ground.

There was agreement that greater enforcement of state and federal laws would help solve the problem, but Bauer also blamed welfare. Workers, he suggested, are content to sit at home rather than fill jobs taken by illegal immigrants, typically in agriculture, construction or service.

"The real problem is the work force," Bauer said, speaking of a state with 12.2 percent unemployment, the sixth-highest jobless rate in the country. "The problem is we have a give-away system that is so strong that people would rather sit home and do nothing than do these jobs. Laziness is not a disability. There are a lot of people that are flat-out lazy and they are using up the goods and services in this state.

Compare that with those tea party survey results and see if you can figure out what he's talking about.

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