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February 5th, 2010


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02:27 am - Conservative Attitudes
Most of you have seen this rather horrifying poll about Republican attitudes. By all accounts, this was a well done and likely very accurate poll.

Here’s as a sort of counterpoint is a fascinating article on conservative identity politics, which contains such odd revelations as
Throughout the 1990s, a period of significant budget-tightening, a cross-section of Americans supported increased spending across a broad range of social programs, rather than cutting them back. The General Social Survey (GSS), which had been posing such questions every year or two since 1972, produced the following cumulative totals for 1992-2000, in response to the question how much are we spending:

.................................................................Too.....About...Too....Liberalism
.................................................................little...right....Much...Index *
Improving nations education system........55.5....22......22.5....71.2
Dealing with drug addiction.....................52.6....29.8....17.7....74.8
Improving & protecting nations health....50.5....28......21.6....70.0
Assistance to the poor.............................45.6....27.6....26.7....63.1
Improving & protecting environment......44.2....30.7....25.1....63.8

* Liberalism index = "too little" [liberal position] / ("too little" + "too much") [liberal position + conservative position]. It's a useful way to derive a single number to indicate level of support. It is only one view, however, since it disregards the middle position, which can vary enormously in size and significance.

But the most surprising thing about these numbers is that they are not a cross-section of all Americans. They are a cross-section of Americans who self-identified as the most conservative--7 on a scale of 1 to 7--roughly the most conservative three percent of the population by self-identification.
These results seems drastically at odds with the Daily Kos poll, and yet I’m betting both are true. The polls in the 2nd article are all phrased in neutral language and may well be better at getting at what people actually believe, rather than the Daily Kos poll, which is all about checking attitudes on current hot-button topics, using questions that use emotionally loaded words. In short, my guess is that the Daily Kos poll did an excellent job of reflecting what Republicans know that they should believe and the quick answers they give w/o thinking, rather than their actual attitudes. The 2nd article goes on to argue:
Two things should be obvious from this analysis: First, there is a huge gap between the public's attitudes on issues and the sorts of candidates it elects. Second, without that gap, the Republican Party would be deeply in trouble at the national level. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the GOP's recent era of dominance is entirely dependent on preventing people from voting their values--if we understand values to mean all of their values, all the things that people believe in, and not just a narrow subset of them.
Of course, this immediately brings to mind the recent post I made about demagogues and the use of emotions or reason in voting. In any case, the issue of what Republican believe looks to be considerably more complex than the recent Daily Kos poll, but still quite disturbing.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:kitten_goddess
Date:February 5th, 2010 12:14 pm (UTC)
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Three things in the Daily Kos poll pleasantly surprised me:

1. Most Republicans think that marriage is an equal partnership.

2. Most Republicans think that women should work outside the home.

3. Most Republicans do not think that the birth control pill is abortion.

All the Republican adults I ever knew were dominionists. The way the media carries on also led me to believe that most Republicans are dominionists. I'm glad to find out that's not true.
[User Picture]
From:krinndnz
Date:February 7th, 2010 11:12 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Well, that's mildly cheering. Thanks for pointing that out.
[User Picture]
From:heronheart
Date:February 11th, 2010 02:04 am (UTC)
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What you may be missing is that one of the polls was about social/moral issues and the other was about a willingness to spend money on specific programs. It's quite possible to believe that it's more important to vote for a Republican who will oppose abortion and oppose other health spending than it is to support a Democrat who will fund health spending and not work against abortion. For what it's worth two of my most conservative friends are also two of the most personally generous people I know.

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