America is different: the evidence


I have been arguing here that America is different to other countries, and in particular that the right wing party (one can hardly call it conservative) is different. Here’s some hard evidence. It is as Markos Moulitsas says, tragic. These are the attitudes of self identified Republicans.

Question
Yes
No
Not Sure
Should Barack Obama be impeached?
39
32
29
Do you believe Barack Obama was born in the United States?
42
36
22
Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?
63
21
16
Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win?
24
43
33
Do you believe ACORN stole the 2008 election?
21
24
55
Do you believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Barack Obama?
53
14
33
Do you believe Barack Obama is a racist who hates white people?
31
36
33
Do you believe your state should secede from the United States?
23
58
19
Should openly gay men and women be allowed to teach in public schools?
8
73
19
Should contraceptive use be outlawed?
31
56
13
Do you believe the birth control pill is abortion?
34
48
18
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MikeM
MikeM
11 years ago

In a recent programme on BBC Radio 4, “Turkeys Voting for Christmas“, political scientist Dr David Runciman discusses public opposition in the US to health care reform:

Last year, in a series of “town-hall meetings” across the country, Americans got the chance to debate President Obama’s proposed healthcare reforms.

What happened was an explosion of rage and barely suppressed violence.

Polling evidence suggests that the numbers who think the reforms go to
o far are nearly matched by those who think they do not go far enough.

But it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform – the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step on the road to a police state – are often the ones it seems designed to help.

In Texas, where barely two-thirds of the population have full health insurance and over a fifth of all children have no cover at all, opposition to the legislation is currently running at 87%. […]

But lest we think this is a uniquely American phenomenon, in the second part of the program this week he will be discussing why there is similar vehement opposition among the British public to inheritance taxes, especially by those who by no stretch of the imagination are ever likely to be troubled by them.

franith
franith
11 years ago

You should probably make clear above the chart that it’s a poll of self identified republicans, rather than ‘America’ in general. And there is a definite tendency among people being phone polled to give these kind of outrageous answers even if they don’t really take them seriously.

But as if any more evidence was required that there is a substantial number of republicans that probably should be committed, don’t miss http://article.nationalreview.com/423580/how-to-save-the-obama-presidency-bomb-iran/daniel-pipes

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
11 years ago

Before drawing conclusions about Americans in general, it’s worth remembering that only 27% of registered voters identify as Republicans.

If interviewers began with a screening question that asked whether the respondent was Republican or Democrat then there may be some selection bias.

It would be useful to see the survey instrument and the instructions they gave to the telephone interviewers.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
11 years ago

MikeM: ‘Barely suppressed violence’ – give me a break. Have you a shred of evidence for that proposition?

NGruen: I’d love to see the equivalent survey ran on Democrats. I will reserve judgment on America’s right-wing in the meantime.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
11 years ago

Moulitsas is just stoking the fires of outrage.

He’s saying that Democrats shouldn’t bother trying to negotiate or find common ground with Republicans because at least a third of Republicans are certifiably insane.

So, rather than giving ground or trying to understand why their opponents object to their policies, Democrats should just talk amongst themselves and not worry about becoming more extreme or detached from mainstream opinion.

Rabid Republicans should be happy about Moulitsas’ approach . It plays to their favourite stereotype of Democrats as an elitists who look down on ordinary people and their values.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
11 years ago

Don Arthur is spot on.

In fact, Kos commissioned the survey as support for his new book, the American Taliban.

David Coles
David Coles(@david-coles)
11 years ago

Don: Yes, the interviews started with asking if they were a Republican. Not if they voted Republican, which could give quite different results. And never mind that asking the question at the start probably primed the respondents to answer with a “Republican” bias.

Tony Harris
Tony Harris(@tony-harris)
11 years ago

Yes, the classical liberal agenda is a very distant rumour for many of the non-left, as indeed is the case for the left as well.
Be assured you would find some weird and wonderful attitudes on the left-liberal side as well! As demonstrated on this site in the debate over the role of Quadrant in the cold war.

Joshua Gans
Joshua Gans(@joshua-gans)
11 years ago

I don’t see the point of only publishing the data on self-identified republicans. If we had date for the general population as well we could determine whether it’s only Republicans who are insane.

franith’s point about outrageous answers is a good one. If there are no consequences, I’m sure some people give answers that convey their feelings rather than their actual beliefs. If a poller asked me, do I think Nick Minchin eats babies for breakfast, I might say yes.

MikeM
MikeM
11 years ago

MikeM: Barely suppressed violence give me a break. Have you a shred of evidence for that proposition?

Patrick,

I provided the link to Runciman’s full transcript. Read it yourself to see what he says.

vanaalst.robert
vanaalst.robert(@vanaalst-robert)
11 years ago

“If we had date for the general population as well we could determine whether its only Republicans who are insane”

There’s a survey a while with many of the same questions here

I think my favorite is the first one “Do you believe that America and Africa were once part of the same continent?”, which appears to be “No” for almost the absolute majority of Republicans (including those that don’t know — only 24% think yes). bahahaha.

So, the answer is probably “mainly Republicans”

vanaalst.robert
vanaalst.robert(@vanaalst-robert)
11 years ago

Sorry, I’ve linked to the wrong one (which has two questions — including the Obama one). I’m sure there’s another one on the same site with many of the other questions that is also split by different voter groups.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
11 years ago

Sorry for being thick, MikeM, I can’t find the transcript and in what you have linked to I can’t find a skerrick of evidence for barely suppressed violence. Maybe I just don’t have a vivid enough predisposition to caricature the hoi polloi.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
11 years ago

For a more sophisticated take on this topic, I suggest this by Ilya Somin.

For example (although he is making an argument that they are all stupid, not some absurd screed against people he doesn’t agree with):

some 32% of Democrats believe that the Jews deserve a substantial amount of blame for the financial crisis (compared to 18% of Republicans). In November 2008, some 59% of Obama voters did not know that the Democrats then had control of Congress.

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