Do Democrats and Republicans want to slap each other?

August 28, 2020

Some people take politics too seriously. In fact, the anger between Republicans and Democrats has now become a standard polling question in the American National Election Survey (ANES), a consortium between the University of Michigan and Stanford University that regularly conducts political surveys nationwide, has added a new question to it’s questionnaire to measure political intensity.

Democrat and Republican Duking it Out

I call it the slap test. And it’s a simple question to test partisan intensity. (I’m not making this up.) The question is clear and unambiguous, as shown below.

How often do you feel like [Republicans] [Democrats] just deserve to be slapped?

The theory, I suppose, is that physical anger is a better measure of intensity than a question like “On a scale of 1 to 10, were one means you dislike the persons political views somewhat and 10 means you want to kill the S.O.B.”

In the July, 2020 survey, this question was asked of 3,080 Democrats and Republicans. I had my doubts that people would answer this question at all, but my impression was entirely wrong. The table below reveals the Republican responses to this subtle question.

How often do you feel like Democrats just deserve to be slapped?”

1. Never122621
2. Some of the time183022
3. About half of the time131315
4. Most of the time281826
5. Always29815

I have cross tab these responses by the Republicans party-id, strong, weak and lean. As you can see, only 12% of strong Republicans say that never occurs to them. For weak and leaning Republicans, they are less likely to slap Democrats as well.

When we move to “some of the time” strong Republicans drop to only 18%. But weak and leaning Republican pick up some the slack with 30% and 22% saying an occasional wack would likely be good for them.

With “most of the time” a good slap was deserved, we find that 28% of strong Republicans give that answer and, here is a surprise, some 26% of Republican leaner’s feel that urge as well, almost matching strong Republicans enthusiasm.

When we reach “always,” strong Republicans show their stuff, with 29% saying that feeling a need to slap a Democrat is always there. And weak Republicans drop to 8% (now we know why they are called “weak” Republicans.) But leaner’s come in with an impressive 15% having that feeling always.

Now let’s see if those girly Democrats can match these tough Republicans.

How often do you feel like Republicans just deserve to be slapped?”

1. Never152415
2. Some of the time202925
3. About half of the time182024
4. Most of the time261724
5. Always221012

At first glance, it doesn’t look bad for the Donkey’s. Let’s start with their so-called strong Democrats. They surpass their competitors in three of the five categories. But when it comes to slapping Republicans most of the time or always, they come up with a combined loss of 9% to the GOP. Strong Republicans dominate this category.

So let’s look at the combined averages of all Democrat and Republican voters. When we average all the categories the Democrats are the overall winners, although it’s close. For strong Democrats, they average 20.2%, compared to the Republicans 20%. In the weak category, Democrats average 20% to the Republican’s 19%. And in the leaner category, Democrat’s have 20% to the Republican’s 19.8%.

It’s good to know that in America we all feel pretty much the same when it comes to slapping members of the opposite party.

But when it comes to intensity, the Republicans walk away with the top prize. In the coveted “always”category, Republicans’ combined average is a record 17% to the Democrats’ 14%.

I don’t know how you feel, but I don’t find it too comforting knowing that a member of the other party really wants to bitch-slap me when I talk to them about politics.

Be safe, especially when talking to someone from a different party.

By Jim Kane

Jim Kane is a pollster and media advisor, and was for fifteen years an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida. Kane is founder of the polling firm USAPoll and served as the Director of the Florida Voter Poll. His political clients have included both Republican and Democratic candidates, including the Republican Party of Florida, and both the Sun-Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel newspapers. At the University of Florida, Professor Kane taught graduate level courses in political science on Survey Research, Lobbying and Special Interest Groups in America, Political Campaigning, and Political Behavior. In addition to his professional and academic career, Jim Kane has been actively involved in local and state policy decisions. He was elected to the Broward County Soil and Water Conservation Board (1978-1982) and the Port Everglades Authority (1988-1994). Kane also served as an appointed member of the Broward County Planning Council (1995-2003), Broward County Management Review Committee (Chair, 1990-1991), Broward County Consumer Protection Board (1976-1982), and the Broward County School Board Consultants Review Committee (1986-1990).

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