David Zsutty, Homeland Institute, August 24, 2023
Politicians and businesses cower in fear of being accused of racism. As we saw during the George Floyd riots, a racism charge is perceived to be so serious that many businesses displayed BLM signs, like the blood of the Passover lamb, in the hope it would spare them from riot damage. Yet the recent boycott of Bud Light for “going woke” through their partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney cost their parent company Anheuser-Busch $27 billion.
Which is stronger, the accusation of racism or the accusation of wokeness? And to what extent is one more powerful than the other? This is an important question because the Left has wielded “cancel culture” to great effect, and their primary charge is “racism.” Therefore, anything that undermines the Left’s cancel culture or promotes the rise of a cancel culture of the Right could significantly alter America’s culture war.
Furthermore, in the economic realm, non-Hispanic whites accounted for 70% of all buying power in the United States in 2020, and are projected to have 68% of US buying power in 2025. And despite white voters being usually taken for granted, in 2016 they proved they have the potential to upend the entire political establishment. White votes and white dollars matter.
The Homeland Institute asked 796 respondents who are politically and demographically representative of white, non-Hispanic American voters about the strength of the charge of “racism” versus the charge of “wokeness.”
- A major finding is that the number of people willing to pay a price to boycott a business that is accused of wokeness is not that far off from the number willing to do the same to a business that is accused of being racist.
- Another major finding is that among those who identified as Republicans, the accusation of being woke was almost twice as powerful as the charge of being racist.
- 61.9% of respondents said they are less likely to support a business if it is accused of being racist.
- But only 41.8% said they would be willing to follow through with boycotting a business that is accused of being racist if they had to pay 10% more or drive an extra mile.
- 43.7% said they are less likely to support a business if it is accused of being woke.
- But only 29.1% said they would be willing to follow through with boycotting a business that is accused of being woke if they had to pay 10% more or drive an extra mile.
- 65.7% said they would be less likely to vote for a politician if that politician was accused of being racist.
- 45.6% said they would be less likely to vote for a politician if that politician was accused of being woke.
- For Independent respondents, 65.5% said they would be less likely to vote for a politician accused of being racist compared to 41.3% of Independent respondents who said they would be less likely to vote for a politician accused of being woke.
- Surprisingly though, among Republican respondents 42.6% said they were less likely to vote for a politician accused of being racist, compared to 79% who said they were less likely to vote for a politician accused of being woke.
- Additionally, 7.2% of Republican respondents said they were more likely to vote for a politician who is accused of being racist.
Let’s examine these results more closely.
First, the poll asked about “racism” without making any distinction about the race of the person(s) it was directed against. Adherents of Critical Race Theory claim that racism is “power plus prejudice” and thus only whites can be racist, and never the victims of racism. Most ordinary Americans, especially those who are not far-Left, take the common-sense view that racism is racial discrimination against any race. Many Americans also doubt the assertion that whites are somehow privileged given the BLM riots, affirmative action, and doxing.
Furthermore, a May 2022 University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll found that across Americans of all races, 50% of Republicans and 20% of Independents thought there has been “a lot more” racism against whites compared to five years ago. 21% of Republicans and 16% of Independents said “a little more.” 21% of Republicans and 32% of Independents said “about the same.” This shows that many Republicans and Independents think that it is not just theoretically possible to be racist against whites, but that anti-white racism does in fact happen in real life and is even increasing. Therefore, anti-racist sentiment should be understood as oftentimes also encompassing racism against whites.
Second, the gap between the accusation of racism versus wokeness is significantly narrower in regard to whether people would actually follow through and translate their disapproval into a boycott. Virtue signaling on social media is a far cry from real life activism.
As stated above, 29.1% of respondents said they would boycott a company if it is accused of being woke. 41.8% of respondents said they would follow through on a boycott of a company if it is accused of being racist. When we compare these two numbers, the accusation of being woke has almost 70% of the power to damage a business’s bottom line as the accusation of racism.
While the accusation of wokeness is 30% less devastating than an accusation of racism, that is still a lot of power. A 2023 NYU report stated that the average net profit margin for businesses excluding financials was 7.77% as of January, 2023, with some sectors being significantly less. Therefore, a business with a slim profit margin could potentially be just as devastated by an accusation of being woke as of being racist, as illustrated strongly by the Dylan Mulvaney fiasco.
Therefore, the Right clearly has substantial parity with the Left in its potential for an economic cancel culture of its own. Blue America has long terrorized Red America with cancel culture, even going so far as to cancel a NASCAR driver of all people for merely liking a meme which was critical of George Floyd. If Red America is to defend itself, it has no choice but to go on the offensive.
What do these numbers mean for the upcoming elections? Much of the outrage from a charge of racism comes from voters who were unlikely to vote Republican anyways. In contrast, among Republican respondents 42.6% said they were less likely to vote for a politician accused of being racist, compared to 79% who said they were less likely to vote for a politician accused of being woke.
Therefore, the charge of being woke carries almost twice as much weight among white Republican voters.
Republican candidates who pander to minority groups will not only waste precious capital trying to obtain a few extra votes which were probably never in the cards to begin with; they could also lose votes if their pandering leads to a charge of being woke. If Republicans are accused of or perceived as being woke when they behave like Democrats, this could very well end their political careers. This phenomenon could in part explain why the “red wave” of the 2022 midterm elections turned out to be a “red puddle.” RINOs and RINO hunters take note.
Moreover, 7.2% of white Republican respondents said that an accusation of racism would make them more likely to vote for a political candidate. The 2022 Blake Masters campaign is a possible example of this phenomenon.
In his 2022 run for US Senate, Blake Masters was accused of being racist for a comment he originally made in April of 2022 about how blacks disproportionally commit a large amount of gun violence. However, the outrage over that comment did not begin until a Daily Beast article published on June 5, 2022. A poll conducted from May 12–16, 2022, by Blueprint Polling before the Daily Beast article showed Master’s opponent, Kelly, having a 16-point lead (this poll was not sponsored by anyone). But a poll conducted from June 24–27, 2022, after the Daily Beast article by Change Research and sponsored by Future Majority, a partisan sponsor for the Democratic Party, showed Kelly as having dropped to a 9-point lead against Masters. Polling numbers fluctuated over the next few months, with Kelly ultimately beating Masters at the polls by a 4.9% lead.
Even though Blake Masters lost, his campaign suggests that for Republican candidates, an accusation of racism might actually serve more as a badge of honor than as a scarlet letter.
Moreover, if 7.2% of white Republicans are more likely to vote for someone accused of racism, what is their likely reaction to crude pandering to minorities like Trump’s Platinum Plan? If even some of these voters choose to sit out elections, it could make the difference between defeat and victory. This topic merits further research.
For decades, whites, Christians, and Republicans have felt sidelined by the establishment. Flexing their economic and voting power via a cancel culture of their own may prove essential to defending their interests. As this poll shows, the potential for a right-wing cancel culture which punishes businesses and politicians who go woke already exists.
More importantly, with the primaries for the 2024 election fast approaching, Republican candidates would be wise to remember that they may have much more to fear from being perceived as woke rather than as racist. In fact, the Blake Masters campaign suggests that garnering accusations of racism may actually backfire on those who hurl them.
The Homeland Institute will repeat this poll annually to track how the public mind evolves on this issue.