Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How Do You Compare to the Wingnut … er … Republican Population?

Research 2000, a “nonpartisan full service research firm” just finished a poll on behalf of Daily Kos. The poll was conducted in late January 2010 and asked just over 2,000 self-identified Republicans a series of questions. The results are … well … staggering. But before diving into the results, let’s play a little game. Below, I’ll reprint the most interesting questions. Take out a piece of paper and write down both your answer and the percentage of those polled who you think answered the same way that you did. Let’s see if you’re a wingnut or sane.

  • Should Barack Obama be impeached, or not?
  • Do you believe Barack Obama was born in the United States, or not?
  • Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?
  • Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win?
  • Do you believe ACORN stole the 2008 election?
  • Do you believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be President than Barack Obama?
  • Do you believe Barack Obama is a racist who hates White people?
  • Do you believe your state should secede from the United States?
  • Should openly gay men and women be allowed to serve in the military?
  • Should same sex couples be allowed to marry?
  • Should gay couples receive any state or federal benefits?
  • Should openly gay men and women be allowed to teach in public schools?
  • Should contraceptive use be outlawed?
  • Do you believe the birth control pill is abortion?
  • Do you consider abortion to be murder?
  • Do you support the death penalty?
  • Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?
  • Do you believe that the only way for an individual to go to heaven is though Jesus Christ, or can one make it to heaven through another faith?

Well, how would you classify yourself after answering those questions? Do you think that your answers are similar to the majority of self-identified Republicans or do you think that you found yourself in the “minority”?

Let’s take a look at the results (for full crosstabs [results], take a look at the detailed information at Daily Kos):

  • Should Barack Obama be impeached, or not?

Before telling you the percentage of self-identified Republicans who answered this question in the affirmative, it is worth remembering what the Constitution says about impeachment: “The President … shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”. (Article II Section 4.) Just out of curiosity, what treason, bribery, or other high crime or misdemeanor has President Obama committed, other than trying to push forward the agenda upon which he campaign and for which he was elected by a majority of Americans?

Anyway, 39% of self-identified Republicans believe that President Obama should be impeached and another 29% of self-identified Republicans aren’t sure! Only 32% of self-identified Republicans do not believe that President Obama should be impeached. Too bad the survey didn’t also ask respondents to identify the grounds for impeachment. But think of what those numbers mean and then tell me how in the world bipartisanship is supposed to work. How is an elected Republican expected to work with President Obama or Congressional Democrats when this is what the Republican base believes (and maybe the elected Republican agrees…)? Also, think about the fact that President Clinton was impeached for lying about a blowjob and Republicans want President Obama impeached for … um … something. But President Bush got a free pass for torture, imprisoning people without right to counsel, warrantless wiretaps, going to war on the basis of a lie, ignoring intelligence that warned of an impending attack against the US, perhaps using aircraft, and the list goes on and on. What does it say about people who (I presume) did not want to impeach President Bush but do want to impeach President Obama?

  • Do you believe Barack Obama was born in the United States, or not?

Now don’t forget that, despite everything you may have read, President Obama did release his birth certificate and it was fact-checked by the non-partisan Factcheck.org. Nevertheless, 36% of self-identified Republicans do not believe that President Obama was born in the United States and another 22% aren’t sure. Add to this the fact that much of the “birther” community argues that President Obama is not a natural born citizen on the basis of his father’s British (Kenyan) citizenship, not that President Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii (though a segment continues to argue that he was born in Kenya [and has offered several obviously fake birth certificates to “prove it”] or even Indonesia [on the basis of nothing more than sheer idiocy…]). The point is that if President Obama was not a natural born citizen then he would be ineligible to be President. If only 42% of self-identified Republicans do believe that President Obama is the legitimate President, then what does that say about his ability to govern or the ability of Congressional Republicans to work with him.

It is worth comparing the “birther” conspiracy to the 2000 Bush v. Gore election. Despite ample evidence that President Obama is a natural born citizen, Republicans don’t believe it. In 2000, despite evidence of electoral shenanigans and a hotly disputed court case, once President Bush took office, Democrats didn’t refuse to work with President Bush on the grounds of “illegitimacy”. How many military officers did we see refuse to serve because they didn’t believe President Bush was the lawful Command-in-Chief? So what is it that gives the “birther” conspiracy the strength to endure even after it has been repeatedly debunked? To me, the fact that so many people are so willing to believe the “birther” theories in the face of contrary evidence says much more about the “birthers'” themselves than anything else. “We don’t need no stinkin’ facts; we know the truth, goshdarnit!”

  • Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?

I still wonder how many Republicans (or Democrats for that matter) really understand what it means to be a socialist or really understand what policies are socialist. Anyway, 63% of self-identified Republicans believe that President Obama is a socialist and another 16% aren’t sure. Only 21% don’t think that he’s a socialist (though I wonder if a percentage of those answered “no” because they think that he’s either a fascist or a Marxist). Of those who believe that President Obama is a socialist, what percent do you suppose would be willing to forego Social Security, Medicare, public education, interstate highways, NASA, and a whole host of other government programs?

  • Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win?

Before I tell you the results of this question, go back and read it again. And again. Think about what you’d have to believe to answer this question in the affirmative. Well 24% of self-identified Republicans do think that President Obama wants the terrorists to win and another 33% aren’t sure. Less than half of Republicans believe that President Obama does not want the terrorists to win. Query why so many Republicans think that President Obama wants terrorists to win. Is it because he doesn’t want to torture them? It is because he wants to close Guantanamo and have trials? Is it because his middle name is “Hussein”? It can’t really have anything to do with Afghanistan or Pakistan given that President Obama has increased troop levels in Afghanistan and increased the number of drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Pakistan. But next time you hear a Republican complain about trials for suspected terrorists or the refusal to torture those in custody, think about those complaints in the context with the fact that it appears that those policy differences mean that President Obama “wants the terrorists to win”.

  • Do you believe ACORN stole the 2008 election?

21% of self-identified Republicans believe that ACORN stole the 2008 election and another 55% aren’t sure. Think about that, three-quarters of Republicans either believe that ACORN “stole” the 2008 election or aren’t sure. Again, one has to wonder what the basis for this belief (or inability to decide) could be. Could it be the thousands of prosecutions in formerly red states against ACORN for procuring fraudulent votes? Um, wait. There haven’t been prosecutions for procuring fraudulent votes. The only thing that really makes sense here is the sense that ACORN = BLACK and African-Americans turned out to vote in 2008 and helped elect President Obama. And of course President Obama’s election must have nothing to do with the financial meltdown, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sen. McCain’s policies, President Bush’s unpopularity, or Sarah Palin. Nope, none of that could have been a factor. It must have been ACORN. But it is interesting to note the extent to which, among Republicans, a largely African-American community organizing group has become the bogeyman for what they perceive as the ills of America.

  • Do you believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be President than Barack Obama?

I’m going to answer this one in the reverse first: Only 14% of self-identified Republicans believe that Barack Obama is more qualified to be President than Sarah Palin. 14%. Please go back and read my previous essays American Idol Candidate and A Victory for Thought. I don’t really have much more to say about this issue; between those essays and other things that I wrote during the campaign, I think that I’ve pretty well exhausted the subject. But for those who didn’t read my previous posts, let me just say this: I believe that being educated at some of the finest schools in the country, including law school, lecturing at one of the finest schools in the country, acting as a highly successful community organizer, and serving (even if briefly) as a state legislator and in the United States Senate makes Barack Obama far more qualified than Sarah Palin who served as mayor of a town with a population of just over 5,000 and governor (until she quit) of a state with the 47th largest population. Then again, we do have to give Palin credit for discovering those non-existent “death panels” and publicizing them on Facebook, don’t we?

  • Do you believe Barack Obama is a racist who hates White people?

Don’t forget that President Obama was raised by his white mother and white grandparents. Well, 31% of self-identified Republicans still think that he is a racist who hates white people and another 33% aren’t sure. Barely one-third of self-identified Republicans don’t think that President Obama is a racist who hates white people. I wonder what percentage of that 31% are themselves racists? Just for fun, go back and take a look at my posts about some of the tea parties from last year (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) and think about the issue of racism and who (President Obama or the Republicans who think that he’s a racist) might better be characterized as the racist. And for those who do think that President Obama is a racist who hates white people … um … why?

  • Do you believe your state should secede from the United States?

Before I tell you the results of this question, query how many of those who answered “yes” would also identify themselves as patriots. Anyway, 23% of self-identified Republicans think that their state should secede from the United States and another 19% aren’t sure. While it is true that 58% percent don’t think that their states should secede, that still leaves an awful lot of “patriots” who favor secession or who haven’t ruled it out. Can you imagine the outcry from Republicans if a single Democrat were to favor secession or even discuss the issue of secession? Anne Coulter would write a a book; Glenn Beck would cry; Rush Limbaugh would give himself a coronary; and Sean Hannity would … what the hell is it that Hannity does anyway? But the Republican Governor of Texas openly talks about secession as a legitimate option. How very patriotic.

Let me quote Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos, about the responses to this particular question:

42 percent of Republicans aren't really patriotic. They pretend to love America only when they approve of the president. These traitors don't believe in democracy, in our nation's founding ideals, or in our flag. To them, those colors run. They are cowards.

Note, secession sentiment is MUCH stronger in the South than elsewhere -- 33 percent want out, compared to just 52 percent who want to stay. In the Northeast, "just" 10 percent want out, in the Midwest, its 18 percent, and in the West, it's 16 percent. Can we cram them all into the Texas Panhandle, create the state of Dumbfuckistan, and build a wall around them to keep them from coming into America illegally?

I guess I should feel good that “only” 18% of Midwestern Republicans want to secede.

  • Should openly gay men and women be allowed to serve in the military?

Republicans still favor a “big tent” philosophy, right? Um, not so much. 55% of self-identified Republicans don’t think openly gay men and women should be allowed to serve in the military and 19% aren’t sure. I wonder how many Republicans will change their mind now that Admiral Mullen has come out in favor of repealing “don’t ask don’t tell”? After all, in their proposed purity test, Republicans wanted to follow the advice of military commanders (“We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges”). Nevertheless, I recognize that repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” and the issue of gays in the military is hotly debated, not just among Republicans, so let’s look at Republican views on other “gay” issues.

  • Should same sex couples be allowed to marry?

While the general outcome of this question probably won’t come as a surprise, the “margin of victory” as it were was somewhat surprising. Only 7% of self-identified Republicans believe that same sex couples should be allowed to marry. 77% do not believe that same sex couples should be allowed to marry! It is worth noting (though I’m not sure what it means) that 80% of men oppose same sex-marriages, but only 74% of women oppose same-sex marriages. It is also worth noting that while only 5% of self-identified Republicans aged 60 or over favor same-sex marriage, 11% of Republicans aged 18-29 favor same-sex marriage. There appears to be a direct correlation between age and support for same-sex marriage. That, in part, explains Republican efforts to amend state constitutions. They see that the demographic tide is shifting in favor of gay marriage, even among Republicans (though by a much smaller majority); thus, they want to amend constitutions now so that more socially open generations that follow can’t easily have their state laws adapt. I still wish that I understood what these people are really afraid of…

  • Should gay couples receive any state or federal benefits?

Well maybe Republicans who oppose same-sex marriage would be more comfortable with something “less” than marriage. Or not. 68% of self-identified Republicans oppose state or federal benefits for gay couples. So much for civil unions, I guess.

  • Should openly gay men and women be allowed to teach in public schools?

Ooh. Scary. A homosexual teaching kids. Well, it apparently is scary to self-identified Republicans: 73% are opposed to openly gay men and women being allowed to teach in public schools.

Just to recap, no gays in the military, no gay marriage, no state or federal benefits for gay couples, and no gay teachers. Do you suppose that it would be fair to say that Republicans are opposed to gay rights? Or, said another way, given that some Republicans would argue with the phrase “gay rights”, is it safe to say that Republicans are opposed to gays? It seems to me that the Log Cabin Republicans really need to think about who they’re associating with and why.

  • Should contraceptive use be outlawed?

Before diving into this question, remember that it is Republicans who talk about keeping government out of our lives, who were scared of “death panels”, and are usually opposed to “on demand” abortion. So you’d think that Republicans would support the use of contraceptives to avoid unwanted pregnancies and would be opposed to laws restricting what people can do, right? Um, not so much. 31% of self-identified Republicans believe that contraceptive use should be outlawed and another 13% aren’t sure. Remember, the question isn’t whether Republicans think that they shouldn’t use contraceptives, but rather, whether the use of contraceptives by others should be outlawed.

  • Do you believe the birth control pill is abortion?

Now that we know that nearly one-third of Republicans want to outlaw the use of contraceptives, can you begin to guess why? Yep. 34% of self-identified Republicans believe that the birth control pill is abortion and another 18% aren’t sure. In other words, less than half of self-identified Republicans disagree with the statement that the birth control pill is abortion. Given that, how in the world is any pro-choice or family planning advocate supposed to find any kind of common ground with Republicans? But it gets better…

  • Do you consider abortion to be murder?

Only 8% of self-identified Republicans answered “no” to this question. Less than 1 in 10! 76% of self-identified Republicans do believe that abortion is murder and another 16% aren’t sure. No wonder people like Dr. George Tiller are killed (well, that and people like Bill O’Reilly egging on those pre-disposed to anti-abortion violence). I do wish that the survey had asked a few deeper follow-up questions to gauge whether this opinion moderated in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the health of the mother.

  • Do you support the death penalty?

Well, at least we know that the vast majority of Republicans recognize the sanctity of life. Except that 91% of self-identified Republicans support the death penalty (with another 5% not sure). I don’t think that I’ve really addressed my views on the death penalty in this blog previously and I don’t really want to get into a long discussion of that now. Broadly speaking, I support the death penalty in a limited number of truly heinous crimes when we really, really, really know that the defendant is guilty; but I temper that support with the belief that as new technologies become available we need to make every effort to utilize the technology to confirm guilt before putting someone to death. I’d much rather have guilty people rotting away in jail than innocent people being killed. I don’t know if Republican support for the death penalty has any sort of nuance, but if I had to guess, I’d wager that Republicans would probably say, “hey, if they’re guilty, fry ’em”. Of course, I suspect that those same Republicans would also be willing to eliminate Miranda warnings, right to counsel, and a whole host of other protections afforded to criminal defendants.

  • Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?

Think about this question for a moment and what a response really tells us about someone. First, if you answer in the affirmative, doesn’t that mean that you perceive your religion as right and all others as wrong? After all, we would only be teaching the “truth” to our kids and another religious tradition that disagreed with that truth must, by implication, be wrong. Second, think about what an affirmative answer to this question says about your view of science. If Genesis explains how God created the world, then doesn’t that mean that not only evolution but also anthropology and astronomy are wrong? Note that this question isn’t even asking if Republicans think that “intelligent design” should be taught instead of or alongside evolution; it is asking if the Bible should be the source material for certain aspects of the science and history curriculum. Third, those answering in the affirmative need to address which creation story from Genesis should be taught in schools to explain the creation of the world. Read Genesis 1:25-27 and Genesis 2:18-19 and then tell me whether God created man or animals first. Then read Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:18-22 and tell me whether man and woman were created at the same time or if woman was created after man. I continue to marvel at the ease with which people will assume that the Bible is the inerrant truth and ignore obvious problems that interfere with that belief.

Anyway, with all of that out of the way, let’s look at the results. Drum roll please… 77% of self-identified Republicans believe that public school students should be taught that the book of Genesis explains how God created the world. Another 8% aren’t sure. Thus only 15% of self-identified Republicans do not think that we should be using the Bible as the basis for certain history and scientific curricula in public schools. The obvious antipathy toward science evidenced by the desire to teach the Bible instead of science is worth remembering next time you hear a Republican talking about the lack of “evidence” for climate change or evolution.

Which, of course, brings us to the real heart of the matter, the question that helps to explain so many of these previous answers:

  • Do you believe that the only way for an individual to go to heaven is though Jesus Christ, or can one make it to heaven through another faith?

67% of self-identified Republicans believe that the only way for an individual to go to heaven is through Jesus. 18% aren’t sure. I wonder what portion of the 15% who answered negatively aren’t Christians? I’d certainly presume that any Republicans who are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or any faith other than Christian would have answered “no”. But what this response really tells us is how Republicans view everyone who isn’t a Christian. At least 67% of Republicans, if not substantially more, think that I’m going to hell. Wow. Moreover, it is worth remembering the response to this question when you next hear a Republican demonizing a political opponent; after all, why bother to humanize or cooperate with someone who you believe is going to hell anyway. And perhaps this answer helps explain why Jews identify so strongly with the Democratic party.

Whew. I know that there’s a lot to digest here. There were several other questions in the poll that, frankly, didn’t interest me that much or for which the responses weren’t particularly revealing or meaningful.

It seems to me that asking Republican candidates some of these questions in upcoming elections might be a good strategy; their responses might shore up support with their base, but might also further alienate them from the moderate center of the American electorate.

The main thing that I take away from the results of this poll is that a large percentage of self-identified Republicans really are bigoted wingnuts.

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3 Comments:

At Wednesday, February 03, 2010 3:41:00 PM , Blogger Mr. Xyz said...

"We've told so many lies, young scientists are totally confused"

http://climaterealists.com/?id=4960

(a video spoof of climate science)

 
At Wednesday, February 03, 2010 4:28:00 PM , Blogger MSWallack said...

Mr. Xyz: Am I to presume that you are a climate change skeptic? What about evolution?

 
At Wednesday, February 03, 2010 5:17:00 PM , Blogger Mr. Xyz said...

I believe the earth is billions of years old and that there is evolution.

 

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