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RACE AND THE WHITE AMERICAN VOTER

September 18. 2020

America is again facing another period of racial tensions brought on by the killing of George Floyd and the continued prejudice against blacks around the country.

These recent events begs the question as to whether whites have changed their attitudes toward black Americans over the past several years, or are their attitudes still stuck primarily in a racial past?

In search of an answer to this question, I have found a time series of questions concerning white voters opinions on black Americans (General Social Surveys).

These are considered social attitude questions that don’t come out and overtly ask respondents if they are prejudiced against blacks. But they do reveal underlying attitudes about white’s opinions of blacks.

This first chart above tracks all white voters from 1977 through 2018 on whether they see racial differences are due to a lack of will to correct. As the chart shows, White voters opinions do decline on this issue over the next 41 years, from 65% to 35%. This is positive.

The graph above breaks down the responses of this question by party. Although all three groups started out in 1977 with similar opinions, in 2008 Democrats’ took a relatively steep decline from 48% to 26% and Republicans percent spiked upward from 48% to 60%. If you are wondering, this was the year Barack Obama was first elected to the Presidency.

When it comes to racial discrimination, Democratic opinions stayed fairly constant from 1977 to 2014 at 40% agreement that racial differences were due to discrimination. Republican attitudes on racial differences caused by discrimination declined until 2014, when it increased by 8%. With the reelection of Obama in 2014, Republican responses switched to more yes responses, increasing from 18% to 26%. Interestingly, Republican opinions did not decline again after the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

With the reelection of Barack Obama in 2014, both parties attitudes were affected, but with a majority of Democrats now agreeing that racial differences were based on discrimination. Republicans, however, are still less convinced that this is the case.

When it comes to Blacks overcoming prejudice without favors, about half of Republicans agree with this position. Again, there is a decline in support of this statement since the reelection of Obama. That is a positive sign.

Democrats dropped 20% on this position since 1977, with most the most significant decrease after the reelection of Obama as well, with only 20% now agreeing with this statement. It is apparent there is some recent acceptance that Blacks need some help, due to previous discrimination. But not all Democrats are on board yet with this view.

A majority of Republican voters, until recently, have opposed this idea. But there maybe some softening on their position since Obama.

Perhaps the most telling graph in this series is on the question of how (very) close Whites feel toward Blacks. Like most of these questions, it is worded in an ambiguous way, intentionally.

The trend is the same as in other graphs, where Democrats are more likely to have this position than either Republicans and Independents. But even a majority of Democrats don’t feel very close to Blacks.

This underlying issue stems from the physical and emotional distance between the two races. Yes, we often work together and occasionally intermingle at cocktail parties and increasingly, live in many of the same neighborhoods. But there is still an emotional distance.

Attitudes of White Americans toward Black’s have improved in America. Schools are now desegregated as well as neighborhoods. Educational opportunities have opened up for Blacks as well.

Yes, the America of the 1970’s no longer exists and overt racism has been relegated to the dark corners of fringe groups. But racial bias still exists.

Racial bias is based on beliefs, such as believing people of color are more likely to commit a crime. That’s a racial bias. Calling 911 because a black man is in the neighborhood even though that man is acting lawfully, is racism. It is the action taken because of a bias that makes it different. Both are pernicious, but racism is far more dangerous.

Finally, the fact that both Republicans and Democrats increased their positive (racial) responses after the reelection of Barack Obama, is an encouraging sign. He managed to reshape the stereotype of Black men and this is supported by how opinions on both sides of the political spectrum changed during his Presidency.

My Mother always said that becoming familiar with a person from another country, often improves your opinion of that country as well. This advice also applies to black and white relationships. Familiarity with an individual of another race often changes a person’s impressions of that race as well. Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt, no matter what Chaucer said. Be safe…

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HOW AMERICAN VOTERS HAVE CHANGED ON SAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS

September 14, 2020

Opinions on no other social issue has changed more in the last 45 years than gay and lesbian sexual relationships. In 1973, only 11% of all voters agreed that same-sex adults having sexual relationships was not wrong. In 2018, that number grew to 58%, as shown in the chart below.

IT IS NOT WRONG FOR SAME-SEX ADULTS TO HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS

This trend began in 1993, and support for this social issue has grown consistently since then and in 2015, the Supreme Court struck down all state laws banning same-sex marriages and made it legal in all 50 states. In that same year, a majority of voters agreed that sexual relationships between same sex partners was not wrong.

Since this is a political blog, I thought it would be interesting to see how partisans felt about this issue over the same time-period. This is a trend study, showing changes in partisan opinion on gay sexual relationships since 1973.

IT IS NOT WRONG FOR SAME-SEX ADULTS TO HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS

In 1973, there wasn’t a significant difference on this issue between Democrats and Republicans. In 1993, however, the gap between two parties began to increase, with Democrats agreeing more than Republicans that sexual relationships were not wrong between same-sex couples. At this point, the difference had grown to almost 12%.

By 2014, Independent and Democratic voters attitudes on this issue merged, and although Republicans increased their acceptance of same-sex relationships, it never reached 50%. Today, the difference between Republicans and Democrats / Independents is 20%.

Regardless of party affiliation, the most important variable in this trend was a person’s age. Younger voters led the way for voters acceptance of sexual relations among same sex couples, as displayed below.

RED BAR = 18-34 YRS / GREEN 35-49 YRS / PURPLE=50-64 / YELLOW=65+

A majority of the 18-34 group had no issue with same-sex sexual relationships by 2009. In 2016, a majority of 35-49 year-old voters reached that same conclusion. And 50-64 year old voters are just shy of majority support (49%) in 2018. The older folks (65+) however, still have a ways to go.

This age difference is understandable, considering the longer your exposed to a social belief, which we call socialization, the longer it takes to adjust to new ideas and behaviors that were once taboo. In many cases, it never occurs and their attitudes die with them.

Finally, when it comes to same-sex marriages, a majority of voters should have accepted this by now since the Supreme Court made it the law of the land. And a Democratic candidate for President, the openly gay Pete Buttigieg who is also married, did well in the primaries. But as the graph below shows, this is may not yet be the case.


When I downloaded this data, I didn’t pay attention to the responses. When I made the chart and saw the results, I thought I had made an error and proceeded to check it several times. But what you see above are the accurate responses (agree) to this statement.

Considering the Supreme Court made same-sex marriages the law of the land and the previous responses to the same-sex sexual relations questions, I thought that a majority of voters would agree that “homosexuals” should have the right to marry. But in this case, neither Republicans, Democrats or Independents reached even 30% agreement on this position.

As a pollster for over thirty years, I have learned how language can effect survey responses. When the researchers at the GSS used the word “homosexuals” it biased the responses. Why? In many peoples’ minds homosexual is still a pejorative term, which will cause a negative response. Using “Gay and Lesbian” is far less threatening, as is “same-sex couples.” This was a huge mistake for the GSS researchers.

I’m sure the responses would have been in line with previous questions on the subject. In a survey, how you word a question and the words you use is paramount in getting an accurate response.

If we put these outlier responses aside, the trend among a majority of Democrats and Independents now accept sexual relations between same-sex individuals, with Republicans lagging behind. In a future post, I will explore why this is the case. Be safe…

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THE SEVEN STATES THAT WILL DECIDE THE ELECTION PART 2

August 11, 2020

In a recent post (://thepoliticsdr.com/2020/09/06/forget-the-national-polls-these-are-the-states-you-need-to-watch/), I outlined how Trump can win the Presidency while still losing the national popular vote. In my humble opinion, Trump will not win the popular vote again.

That leaves his path back to the White House through the battleground states, in particular Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan, which would add 65 electoral votes to his national total. This is not a secret and it is no coincidence that both candidates were in Michigan and Pennsylvania for the last two days.

Because of this, I will be posting regular updates on the battleground states and measuring changes to the race as they occur. Below is the latest update with the most recent averages of polls.

PREVIOUS LEAD %CURRENT LEAD%DIFF%ELECT.COLLEGE 
FLORIDA 1.81.2-0.629 
WISCONSIN 46.32.310 
MICHIGAN 2.64.21.616 
PENNSYLVANIA 3.54.30.820 
MINNOSOTA 5.35.80.510 
ARIZONA 54.8-.0211 
NORTH CAROLINA 0.6.080.215
AVERAGE %3.33.90.6
CURRENT POLLS COMPLETED BY SEPT.11, 2020

The trend to this date is a slight gain by Biden since our last post on these seven states. But he is now behind in both Florida and Arizona, but by only .6% and .02% respectively. Notice that the difference in Florida’s average has changed by only six tenths of a percent since the last average, but to Trump’s favor. Florida is still headed to its usual status as the closest state in the Union on election day.

Overall, Biden has increased his lead on average in all seven swing states since our last series of polls by only 0.6%. But in the three states that Trump can clinch the election, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Trump still trails Biden by an average of 3.2%, even with an increase in Florida.

With 20 days until the election, the outcome is still uncertain and both candidates have a good chance winning. My gut feeling is that Florida is going south on Biden and that leaves Michigan and Pennsylvania the key states for both candidates. At the state level, this race is still within 3.2%. Don’t print your favorite candidate’s winning bumper just yet. I’d wait for a couple days after the election to be sure…Be safe.

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WHO ARE MORE RELIGIOUS, REPUBLICANS OR DEMOCRATS?

September 10, 2020

Religion has been a part of politics and campaigns since George Washington ran for the Presidency. No candidate has ever run as an atheist and many political pundits said Kennedy couldn’t win the White House as a Catholic. And let’s not forget Jewish candidates. None have run for President, but Joe Lieberman was the Democratic nominee for Vice-President with Al Gore. They lost.

But are the two partys’ rank and file different in their religious beliefs? Using the time-series surveys from the General Social Surveys (GSS), I have selected several religious beliefs, that I believe most folks would count as significant religious behaviors.

Those beliefs are “pray once a day,” “life after death,” “fundamentalist,” “belief in God (with no doubts)” and attend religious services at least once a week. This is an arbitrary selection, and I don’t know how you feel, but unless you become a monastic monk, I don’t think you could get anymore religious than this. Let’s start with attending services once a week as shown below.

RED Line = Republican

In general, the Republicans have a significant edge on this measure, with a percent decline of weekly attendance over 44 years of only 4%. Democrats on the other hand, declined by 17% over the same time frame. Independents also declined in attendance by 12%.

In a belief of life after death, we have a slight increase among all partisans over time. Both Democrats and Independents had a consistent attitude over life after death, but at 10% lower level over recent years than Republicans.

When it comes to daily prayer, all three partisan groups show some consistency since 2000 and have similar numbers when it comes to daily prayers. Some 30% or more of both major party’s say they pray daily since 1983. That surprises me, but the Pew Charitable Trust found that 55% among all American adults pray daily, compared with 25% in Canada, 18% in Australia and 6% in Great Britain.

There are some surprises in the fundamentalist category. In the seventies, more Democrats considered themselves as fundamentalists than Republicans. This began to change in the 1990’s, which I have previously pointed out was pivotal period between the “Religious Right” and the GOP.

As you can see, this also led to a decline in Democratic fundamentalist identification. Now 29% of Republicans call themselves fundamentalist as compared to 24% of Democrats.

Finally, we have the real test of a God fearing religious practitioner: the belief in God with no doubts. As you can see, Republicans have over the past thirty years shown a consistent belief that God exists, with 70% believing in the Almighty, while the Democrats began to waver in 2006, that continued through 2018, culminating in a 10% drop during that period.

So which party has the more religious rank and file? As you can see, it really depends on what you believe is the single most important element of religiosity. Some people may believe that praying everyday and attending religious services every week are the hallmarks of a true believer.

But if you don’t believe in God, without any doubts whatsoever, your prayers and attendance at services doesn’t really matter. (And who are you praying to?) The Democrats are losing this most important aspect. The recent, but significant decline on this issue has disqualified them. And consequently, I have to award the Republican Party the winner of the “most religious” American party.

Now excuse me, it’s time for my prayers…be safe.

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FORGET THE NATIONAL POLLS THESE ARE THE STATES YOU NEED TO WATCH

September 6, 2020

If you are like me, you probably check the latest Trump vs. Biden polls regularly. As of today, Joe Biden has an average national lead of 7.1%. At this date in 2016, Hilary Clinton average national poll lead over Donald Trump was 3%. On election day, she won the national popular vote by 2.1%.

But as we all know, Clinton lost almost all of the so-called battleground states. In fact, Trump won all but one battleground state, by an average difference of 1.23%, as the table below shows.

STATEBIDEN % LEAD2016 RESULTS %TRUMP ELECT.VOTE
FLORIDA1.8-1.229
WISCONSIN4-0.710
MICHIGAN2.6-0.316
PENNSYLVANIA3.5-0.720
MINNOSOTA5.31.5(10)*
ARIZONA5-3.511
NORTH CAROLINA 0.6-3.715
AVERAGE3.25-1.22101
NEGATIVE VALUES INDICATE TRUMP NET PERCENT *BIDEN ELECTORAL VOTE

Currently, Biden has an average poll lead in all six states of 3.3%. In 2016, Hilary Clinton lost six of these states by an average of 1.2%, giving Donald Trump 101 electoral votes of his 306 total. If you do the math, without these six states his total electoral vote would have been 205, 65 short of the required 270 votes needed for victory. A graphic representation of this difference between Biden’s poll lead and Trump’s

RED BARS ARE BIDEN’S CURRENT % POLL LEAD.
BLUE BARS ARE TRUMP”S % FINAL ELECTION RESULT.

Today, Trump is behind in every single one of these swing states, but only by an average of 3.3%!

If Trump can keep his base states (205 electoral votes), he can keep the keys to to the White House by winning Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania for a total of 70 electoral votes, some five more than he needs. He is currently behind Biden in these three states by an average of only 2.6%. And the latest Monmouth University poll now has Biden leading in Pennsylvania by 3.5%, down from his 13-point lead in July.

The point here is that this race is extremely close and the outcome dependent not on winning the popular vote but instead just winning a combination of these swing states.

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IS AMERICA LOSING CONFIDENCE IN OUR INSTITUTIONS AND OUR FELLOW CITIZENS?

September 3, 2020

Americans have a long history for of supporting their institutions, even in times of crisis. When people trust their institutions, they’re better able to solve common problems. But beginning in the 1970’s, confidence in American institutions started to evaporate.

The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation.” Jimmy Carter, July 1979.

This was the era of Watergate and the final days of the Vietnam War. In 1975, after 10 years and thousands of American soldiers’ lives lost, America abandoned the South Vietnamese people. And Americans no longer trusted their own government.

In this post, I’m going to track Americans’ confidence in their institutions from 1974 through 2018, from education to the military via partisan differences.

Education has long been a path for advancement and success for the average American family. This is often referred to as the “American Dream,” the belief that education leads to individual success. Recent studies indicate that this dream is fading for many families.

In 1974, 49% of American voters had a “great deal” confidence American education. In 2018, this response dropped to 25%, nearly half of what it was in 1974. As you might guess the decline among Republicans was eight percent greater than Democrats.

Discipline is often cited as a major concern for public schools, as well as drug abuse and crime and a belief that schools no longer prepare the next generation for the future. The aging of America increased these perceptions, where the baby-boomer generation defined by what they thought how a real education should look like.

This evaporation of trust is not limited to education alone, but other institutions as well. In this post, I’m going show that many of these institutions are losing public confidence. The data for the following charts I have created are from the General Social Surveys (GSS) that specializes in cultural and political trends over time. In this case, survey responses are from time-series survey conducted from 1974 through 2018.

A hallmark of the United States has always been its’ free press. But confidence in America in the press has declined since 1974, as shown below.

As expected, Republicans lack of confidence in the press has outpaced that of Democrats, especially in recent years. In 2018, the gap between Republicans and Democrats had grown to 43%, as the mantra of “fake news” often permeates the White House news conferences.

One subject that both Democrats and Republicans do agree on is their lack of confidence in medicine. This data predates the pandemic, so voters’ confidence in medicine has likely changed.

As the chart shows, a great deal of confidence in medicine has declined by 42%, with all three partisan groups over the past quarter century. Why this decline is unknown, but most likely the cost of prescription drugs and health care are good candidates. This inter-party agreement does not apply, however, to organized religion, as shown below.

Interestingly, both parties agreed on this institution until 2000, when Democrats started to become more negative. That year, George W. Bush won 68% of the evangelical vote against Al Gore. By 2016, Donald Trump carried 81% of that group and the difference between the two party’s on organized religion increased to 21%. And the gap appears to be widening as the partisan divide expands.

When some evangelicals weaponized religion for political purposes, many Democrats and Independents began to lose confidence in organized religion. That doesn’t mean they reject religion. On the contrary, some 50% of liberal Democrats attend religious services at least once a week and 60% of conservative Democrats say they attend religious services once a week as well.

One of the most important institutions in the US is the military. Americans’ generally revere their men and women in uniform (except during the Vietnam war). So you would expect both party’s to have similar confidence levels. And that was the case until 2001.

After the Vietnam War, partisan confidence in the armed forces tracked each other until 2003. That was when the Bush administration began a military campaign against Iraq and Saddam Hussein. At that point, Republican confidence increased but Democrats initially lagged behind, but soon followed suit, but still significantly lower than Republicans.

Today, 50% of Democratic rank and file members say they have a “great deal of confidence” in the military and almost 80% of Republicans say that as well. In 1973, at the end of the Vietnam War, that level of confidence in the Military was less than 40% among all Americans. That war is most likely forgotten for non Vietnam veterans. Americans have never liked loosing.

This partisan loss in confidence for American institutions follows the growing divide between Republican and Democrats. Many of these changes can be directly related to the political polarization of American politics. As party differences increase, so does the confidence in our institutions.

And so does the stress people feel even when just thinking about politics today. In the July, 2020, ANES survey of voters, they asked how stressful it was for them when thinking about politics. As the table below shows, 80% of strong Republicans and 88% of strong Democrats say that it is stressful for them.

Column2Column3Column4
1. Strong Republican7. Strong Democrat
How stressful do you find thinking about politics?1. Extremely stressful %1717
 2. Very stressful %1223
 3. Moderately stressful %2630
 4. A little stressful %2518
   
 TOTAL %8088

I can’t tell you if this is unusual or not, since this question has only been asked once. In conjunction with my recent post (http://thepoliticsdr.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1868&action=edit) on how often Democrats want to slap Republicans (and vice-versa, table below), it indicates that this polarization has taken on an ugly turn.

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

STR. REP%WEAK REP %LEAN REP%
1. Never122621
2. Some of the time183022
3. About half of the time131315
4. Most of the time281826
5. Always29815

When 52% of Republicans feel that Democrats deserve to be slapped always, it shows that the partisan division is now as deep as the Grand Canyon. The motto “United we stand, divided we fall” as Patrick Henry proclaimed, doesn’t resonate as it once did. But when both partisan groups feel this way about each other, communication and respect for different ideas dies as well. Be safe, and don’t slap anyone, even if they deserve it…

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AMERICAN PARTY IDENTITY CHANGE SINCE 1960

August 31, 2020

Political scientists generally agree that party-id on at the individual level is relatively stable. Through the socialization process, most Americans adopt most of their political beliefs from their parents (August 30, 2020http://thepoliticsdr.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1768&action=edit)

At the macro level, however, this is less clear due to generational changes and political influences. In this post, I’m going to compare two American time periods and their respective changes in the seven-point party identification measure.

The first period includes the years of 1948 through 1960, a formative period after World War II and Korea that shaped the political beliefs of the Baby Boomer generation.

The second time period covers 1980 through 2020, that follows the Ronald Reagan presidency and ends with the election of Donald Trump in 2016. These two different era’s in American history are significantly different from each other.

In the 50’s, Television was in its infancy and following the Korean War the country was at peace with a booming economy. The second period, followed the Vietnam War and the Watergate crisis. In addition, there were significant demographic racial changes as well.

Considering the political and generational upheaval during this period, you would expect significant changes in voter’s partisan beliefs.

The data for this analysis comes from the American National Election Studies (ANES), a time-series survey project supervised by the University of Michigan and Stanford University. In both time periods, this survey asked the identical questions on party identification. So wording effects should have no effect on responses.

Table below shows the 1948 through 1960 responses and a bar chart of the data.

Years
1948-1960  Party-id    Percent
1. Strong Democrat24
2. Weak Democrat25
3. Independent – Democrat7.8
4. Independent – Independent7.6
5. Independent – Republican7.03
6. Weak Republican14.9
7. Strong Republican14.2

At this point in our history, the Democrats had a significant partisan advantage over the Republicans. This was the era of Dwight Eisenhower, a war hero, and just before the 1961 election of John F. Kennedy. In 1948, Harry Truman pulled an upset win over Republican Thomas Dewey.

At this point in our history, Independents were just a small portion of the electorate. And without the persona of General Eisenhower and the Korean War, it would have likely been a total Democratic era.

Let’s now move ahead in time to the 1980 through the 2020 time period and compare how party-id evolved since the 1950’s, as shown in the table and graph below.

 1980-2020 Valid Percent% CHANGE
Party-id1. Strong Democrat20.1-3.5
2. Weak Democrat17.5-7.3
3. Independent – Democrat13.05.2
4. Independent – Independent12.34.7
5. Independent – Republican11.34.3
6. Weak Republican13.0-2
7. Strong Republican12.8-1.4

In this political era, the Democratic party’s share of the electorate shrunk by almost 11% and the Republicans lost 3.4% since 1960.

The big winners here are the Independents. Counting the leaner’s, this group increased by 14 points. Now as I have pointed out in a previous post, many of these leaner’s vote like weak Democrats and Republicans, but it shows a significant movement toward a less partisan identity.

This significant change also had an impact on our elections. In the 1980 presidential election, Ronald Reagan won 51.7% of the electorate to politically wounded Jimmy Carter’s 41%. Independent candidates like John Anderson and Ross Perot rose to political prominence.

In the 1992 election, Ross Perot garnered some 19% of the total vote, insuring Bill Clinton’s victory. In 1996, Perot took another 8.4% of the total vote. After this point, no significant independent candidates challenged the reigning two party system.

In the 1948-1960 period, strong and weak Democrats comprised 49% of the electorate and strong and weak Republicans just 23.2%, an almost 26% difference to the Democrats favor.

In the 1980-2020 period, Republicans (weak and strong) were still at almost 26% and Democrats at nearly 38%, an advantage of almost 12%, a decline of 14% from the earlier period.

The 1948-1960 period gave the Republicans two presidential victories and the Democrats two wins. Why didn’t Democrats win all four elections? The obvious reason was Dwight D. Eisenhower, the former General of the Army in WW II and in 1952, America was mired in an unpopular Korean War.

And Adlai Stevenson was no John F. Kennedy. The General won the popular vote by over 10 points. The 1956 election was just a rerun of the ’52 election, with Eisenhower defeating Stevenson this time by 14%. The Democrats partisan advantage melted in the face of General Eisenhower and the beginning of the Cold War.

The second era, 1980-2020, produced six Republican presidential victories compared to the Democrats four wins, with the 2020 election still 60 days away. It is important to consider that the popular vote was won by the Democratic candidates – Al Gore and Hilary Clinton.

Both of these period examples show that partisan attachments are just part of the story. Candidates and salient issues still are important. In addition, the Republican party in the modern era, has always been the underdog in party-id. They have compensated this fact by two major advantages: turnout and money.

But in the election for president this year, I believe that the distribution of votes between Donald Trump and Joe Biden will have similar, but not identical pattern as the 2016 election.

Why? Although the Covid-19 virus still rages and should be a major reason for vote choice, the real issue is still Donald J. Trump. His supporters will still vote for him even if they’re on a ventilator.

The two tables blow are voters self-reports of how they voted in 2016 by their level of party-id strength.

20161. Strong Republican2. Weak Republican3. Lean Republican
Trump86%67%66%
Clinton1.40%8.50%7.90%


20164. Independent5. Lean Democrat6. Weak Democrat7. Strong Democrat
Trump 19%10%11.80%9.60%
Clinton19%52%53%76%

Notice that strong Republicans gave Trump 10 points more than strong Democrats gave Clinton. This pattern continues where Trump adherents consistently out vote their Democratic counterparts.

This is typical of Democratic and Republican voting patterns. In other words, Democratic defections are common and for Republicans rare.

The question is will this voting pattern continue in 2020? Will weak and independent Democrats come back for Joe Biden? We won’t know until after the final votes are counted. Don’t stay up late on November 3 for the final results. Get some sleep, you won’t miss anything. Be safe…

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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?”

STR.REP %WEAK REP %LEAN REP %
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?”

STR DEM %WEAK DEM %LEAN DEM %
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.

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HAS THE COUNTRY BECOME MORE CONSERVATIVE or MORE LIBERAL?

August 24, 2020

One of the more contested political issues is whether America is becoming more conservative over the past three or four decades.

There is no doubt that people do become more conservative as they age. Most psychology studies blame this trend on the decline of intellectual curiosity as people age, which leads to increases in conservatism. (That’s assuming you had any intellectual curiosity to begin with.)

Whether a person considers themselves conservative or liberal does affect their views on many political and social issues. For example, the recent #Me Too Movement, which reflects peoples concerns over sexual violence, is a good example of how both conservatives and liberals see this issue differently. The graph below displays the thermometer rating of the movement by their liberal-conservative identity.

Data from the GSS 1972-2020 surveys.

Ratings above 50 indicate positive views of the movement and those below 50 indicate negative positions. As you can see, all conservative responses are negative and all liberal ones are positive.

From this we can conclude that people’s conservative/ liberal values do have a significant effect on important issues. In other words, its not like calling oneself a Floridian, but a set of values that can significantly affect social and political beliefs and sometimes, actions.

To determine whether the country is becoming more conservative or liberal, I am using the General Social Survey (GSS), which has been collecting social and political data since 1972. The below chart is based on respondents self reports if they consider themselves conservative, from 1974 through 2018.

What is remarkable about this data is how consistent voters’self-identification has been over the last 46 years. This stability suggests that being conservative is an important self-identity, like a person’s religion or ethnic group. But when we break it down by party identification, we see a completely different picture, as shown in the graph below.

Red line = Republican / Blue line = Democrat / Green = Independent

The red line, which represents Republican conservative responses, started to increase in 1974 and still continues on an upward track. Democrats (blue line) conservative responses rose initially until 1980, when it began a slow decline until 1998, when it took a sharper drop.

In 2018, 70% of Republicans said they were conservative and only 13% of Democrats said the same. From 1974 to 2018, the gap between the two parties went from 20% to 57%. And the divide is continuing to increase. Fox News and CNN represent these two America’s.

So is America becoming more conservative or liberal? The answer depends on your political identification. Republicans are becoming significantly more conservative and Democrats are increasingly more liberal. In the Chart below, I compare just the Republican and Democratic responses on whether they are liberal.

BLUE LINE = DEMOCRATS / GREY LINE = REPUBLICANS

This chart clearly delineates the increasing differences between the two parties over the past 42 years. During this time period, the liberal gap between the two parties increased from 14% to 47%.

This ideological divide is showing its ugly side during this current presidential election. America has always been divided on policies, that is why we have two parties. The difference today, however, is a growing cavern between the two parties’ beliefs, which makes compromise almost impossible to bridge. Be safe…

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THE 2020 POLITICAL DISCONNECT!

August 23, 2020

I have been conducting polls for over 30 years and I have never seen such odd survey results as I have seen in this presidential election. To this point, the results of several recent polls conducted by the Harris Research Associates for NBC/Wall Street Journal Surveys confirm this observation.

The average sample size for each of the 11 polls, was over 500 interviews conducted live from both land lines and cell phones. These are quality surveys.

In all these surveys, a question was asked how positive or negative (very, somewhat, and neutral) feelings they had for Donald Trump. In eight of these surveys, they also asked the same question for Joe Biden as well. Below are the “Very Positive” responses for each candidate.

Trump Very Positive % Biden Very Positive %

30 18
29 15
29 17
31 16
29 18
33 14
29 NA
27 12
30 NA
28 11
28 NA
Average 29.3 Average 15.1
Trump and Biden Very Positive Ratings

Trump scores an average 14% more “very positive” reviews than Biden, which would normally suggest he is the front runner. But he is not, as the table below showing the trial ballot results from the same surveys makes clear.

DATETRUMP %BIDEN %
20-Aug4150
20-Jul4051
20-Jun4249
20-Apr4249
20-Mar4352
AVERAGE41.650.2
Trump and Biden Percent of Two Party Vote.

Not only is Trump not winning the popular vote, but he is trailing Biden by almost 9%. This relationship, in my experience, is highly unusual. So what’s happening? Well the problem for Trump is that he is not only leading with the very positive views, he is also winning the “very negative” ratings as well.

TRUMP VERY NEGATIVE %BIDEN VERY NEGATIVE %
4433
4833
4526
4325
4224
AVERAGE % 44.4AVERAGE % 28.2
TRUMP AND BIDEN VERY NEGATIVE RATINGS

When you subtract Trump’s very negative scores from his very positive ones, he comes up with net positive of only 2.8%. Biden on the other hand, has net positive of 22%, a difference of 19 points in Biden’s favor.

The expression you either love him or hate him could be Donald Trump’s campaign motto.

Trump has cultivated this love / hate relationship with voters by his actions and statements that often divide the public along partisan lines or what many call polarization. And it shows. Yes, his base is solidly with him, but the final question is will it be enough on election day. Be safe…