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ABC News poll finds vast gaps in basic views on gender, race, religion and politics

Posted on 01-Nov-2013
Topics: Public Trust  

From ABC News:

An almost unfathomable gap divides public attitudes on basic issues involving gender, race, religion and politics in America, fueled by dramatic ideological and partisan divisions that offer the prospect of more of the bitter political battles that played out in Washington this month.

A new ABC News/Fusion poll, marking the launch of the Fusion television network, finds vast differences among groups in trust in government, immigration policy and beyond, including basic views on issues such as the role of religion and the value of diversity in politics, treatment of women in the workplace and the opportunities afforded to minorities in society more broadly.


Another result speaks to alienation more generally: Just 31 percent of Americans overall say “people like you” are well represented in Congress. It peaks among nonwhites and Democrats, but even then just at 47 and 43 percent, respectively – falling to 24 percent of whites and 27 percent of conservatives.


There are racial and ethnic differences in many of the attitudes measured in this survey, partly reflecting partisan predispositions. In ABC News/Washington Post poll data, 24 percent of whites call themselves Democrats and 30 percent are Republicans, while among nonwhites the gap is far wider – 43 percent identify themselves as Democrats, vs. just 10 percent as Republicans.

Including people who describe themselves as independents but say they lean toward one of the two parties, the gap widens even further. Among whites, 42 percent are Democrats or lean that way; 48 percent are Republicans or Republican leaners. That compares to a 70-21 percent leaned Democrat vs. leaned Republican division among nonwhites.

Nonwhites, separately, are 11 points more apt than whites to describe themselves as liberals.


Millennials, another group on which Fusion will focus coverage, customarily are described as Americans born from 1982 to 2004; for adults, that’s age 18 to 31. They’re not much different from other age groups on most of the attitudes measured in this survey, with two exceptions. As noted, along with under-40s more broadly, they’re more apt to favor legal status for undocumented immigrants. And they’re 12 points less apt than their elders to say politicians should base policy positions on their religious beliefs, a result that fits with customarily lower levels of religiosity among young adults.

There’s another difference among millennials vs. older adults, reflecting another longstanding attribute of young Americans: Their comparative lack of engagement in politics. Among adults age 18 to 31, just 54 percent report that they’re registered to vote. That soars to 87 percent among those 32 and older. Indeed it increases steadily with age, peaking at 94 percent of seniors.

There are other differences among groups, albeit less consistently across issues. For example, support for legal status for undocumented immigrants is considerably higher among whites who’ve gone through college vs. those who have not, 53 vs. 37 percent. The less-educated group may feel a greater sense of economic vulnerability.

On the role of religion, not surprisingly, a broad 74 percent of evangelical white Protestants say political leaders should rely at least somewhat on their religious beliefs in making policy decisions. That falls to half as many non-evangelical white Protestants, 37 percent, and drops further, to 16 percent, among Americans who profess no religion.

On gender issues, 63 percent of women think women have fewer opportunities than men in the workplace; fewer men, 43 percent, agree. And women are 13 points more apt than men to call it a good thing if more women were elected to Congress, 49 vs. 36 percent.

Similarly, 54 percent of nonwhites say it’d be good to elect more women, compared with 38 percent of whites. Interestingly, nonwhites are less apt to say it would be a good thing to elect more nonwhites to Congress (as noted above, 29 percent) than they are to say the same about women. Still fewer whites, 20 percent, see electing more nonwhites as a good thing.

Another interesting result is that, among Republicans, partisanship trumps gender in views on electing women to Congress: There’s essentially no difference between Republican men and GOP women in calling this a good thing, 22 vs. 24 percent. There is a difference, though, between Democratic men (54 percent see electing more women as a good thing), compared with Democratic women (among whom more, 69 percent, hold this view).

Views on electing more women and nonwhites, it should be noted, don’t necessarily translate into a sense that doing so would ease future budget disputes. A quarter of Americans think a more diverse Congress would make future negotiations easier (37 percent of liberals, vs. 10 percent of conservatives). Few think it would make things worse. But 66 percent think it’d make no difference either way.


[1] "Poll Finds Vast Gaps in Basic Views on Gender, Race, Religion and Politics", Gary Langer, ABC News, 28-Oct-2013

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