September 12, 2016

EVIDENCE MEANS THINGS:

Do Half of Trump's Supporters Really Belong in a "Basket of Deplorables"? (Jamelle Bouie, 9/12/16, Slate)

"[H]alf" wasn't wrong. "Half" wasn't a gross generalization at all. "Half" was by all indications close to the truth.

When pollsters and researchers want to measure racial bias, they don't ask if respondents are "racist"; the stigma of being a racist is strong enough that most people won't answer honestly, to say nothing of the fact that racial prejudice exists on a continuum. A binary answer doesn't capture the complexity of bias and bigotry. Instead, they ask proxy questions that try to capture attitudes associated with racism. One such question--asked in multiple surveys by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm--is whether respondents believe President Obama was born in the United States and whether they believe he's a Muslim. These questions begin to scratch the surface of racial bias. And what are the results? In one survey, two-thirds of Republicans with a favorable opinion of Donald Trump said that Obama is a Muslim, and 59 percent said he wasn't born in the United States.

There's other data too. In June, Reuters measured the racial attitudes of Clinton, Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich supporters. A significant number of supporters for each candidate voiced negative attitudes about black Americans. But Trump backers stood out in their animus. Nearly 50 percent said blacks were "more violent" than whites; almost as many said that blacks were "more criminal than whites." More than 40 percent said that blacks were "more rude" than whites, and more than 30 percent said that blacks were "lazier" than whites.

Perhaps the best data on questions of race and Trump comes from political scientist Jason McDaniel of San Francisco State University and Sean McElwee, a research associate at Demos, a left-leaning think tank. Using the 2016 pilot of the American National Election Study, conducted in January, they drill down on racial attitudes among Trump supporters. Given what we already know, their results shouldn't come as a shock. More than 40 percent of all Republicans and more than 60 percent of Trump supporters say that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Compared with those who backed other candidates in the GOP primary, Trump supporters have cooler feelings toward blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, and LGBTQ Americans, and warmer feelings toward whites. By sizable margins, according to McElwee's analysis of ANES, Trump supporters are more likely than non-Trump supporters to believe that blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims are lazier and more violent than whites. More than 60 percent of Trump supporters believe black people are more violent than whites; nearly 50 percent of non-Trump Republicans say this. More than 70 percent of Trump supporters believe Muslim people are more violent than whites; roughly 60 percent of non-Trump Republicans say this. These are deplorable views, and they represent the consensus opinion not just of Trump supporters but of all Republicans in the survey. If the study is at all reflective of the population at large on this score, we're going to need a bigger basket.

Despite this readily available information, many reporters and pundits are still skeptical that any large number of Americans could hold explicitly racist views. "Saying racists are racists isn't bigoted. Calling a quarter of the country racist is [obviously] discriminatory," tweeted Josh Kraushaar of National Journal, overstating the percentage of Trump backers in the general population. (In the RealClearPolitics average of the presidential race, Trump takes support from 42.9 percent of registered or likely voters. Half of that, given more than 146 million registered voters, is about 31 million people--right around 13 percent of all voting-age adults.)

The other half should just be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by at September 12, 2016 4:42 PM

  

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