Poll Finds Vast Gaps in Basic Views on Gender, Race, Religion and Politics

Gary Langer, ABC News, October 28, 2013

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.

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While these issues divide a variety of Americans, this poll, produced for ABC and Fusion by Langer Research Associates, finds that the gaps in nearly all cases are largest among partisan and ideological groups–so enormous and so fundamental that they seem to constitute visions of two distinctly different Americas.

Consider:

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•    Forty-one percent overall think nonwhites have fewer opportunities than whites in society. Fifty-six percent of Democrats say so, as do 62 percent of liberal Democrats (more than the number of nonwhites themselves who say so, 51 percent). Among Republicans that dives to 25 percent.

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•    Just 23 percent overall say it would be a good thing if more nonwhites were elected to Congress; 73 percent instead say it makes no difference to them. Seeing this as a good thing peaks at 50 percent among liberal Democrats (far more, in this case, than the number of nonwhites themselves who say so, 29 percent). Among conservative Republicans, it’s 5 percent.

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•    Support for legal status for undocumented immigrants, 51 percent overall, ranges from 77 percent among liberal Democrats to 32 percent among conservative Republicans. Views on this issue also show sharp differences among other groups–for example, nonwhites vs. whites, 70 vs. 43 percent; and adults younger than 40 vs. their elders, 61 vs. 47 percent.

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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.

This ABC News/Fusion survey was produced to take a fresh look at some basic attitudes on gender, race and ethnicity, religion and politics, all fodder for the Fusion network, an ABC News/Univision joint venture to be launched Oct. 28. The network is to cover entertainment, lifestyles and news from the perspective of young, English-speaking Hispanics.

{snip} 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.

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{snip} 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.

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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.

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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.

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