In the latest round of “studies confirming stuff we already knew,” newly released opinion-poll data from the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center shows that people who identify as Republican are more likely to believe that blacks are less motivated and less intelligent than whites. The survey results also reveal that more Republicans believe that African Americans get preferential employment treatment over more-qualified whites.
For more than four decades, the General Social Survey has studied the complex questions of American society; it is the “only full-probability, personal-interview survey designed to monitor changes in both social characteristics and attitudes currently being conducted in the United States.”
The Washington Post reviewed the survey’s 2016 data and learned some not-so-surprising facts about the differences in how the different parties view race in America. The poll asked, “On average, blacks have worse jobs, income and housing than white people. Do you think those differences are because most just don’t have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves up out of poverty?”
Fifty-five percent of white Republicans agreed with this statement, while 26 percent of white Democrats believed it to be true. While the difference in opinion was striking, the results were almost the same when researchers asked the question in 2010, when 60 percent of white GOPers agreed, compared with 32 percent of white Dems.
When asked about work ethic, the number of Republicans who believe blacks are lazier almost doubled the number of Democrats, 42 percent versus 24 percent, respectively, reflecting the second-biggest gap in the poll’s history. Years ago, when people’s attitudes about race were different, 28 percent of white Democrats believed the statement to be true, compared with 47 percent of white Republicans. However, that was way back in the dark ages of race relations—2010.
According to the survey, more than a quarter (26 percent) of the Grand Old Party’s members think blacks are less intelligent than whites. Although this statistic seems outdated, it is a vast improvement from 1996, when more than 38 percent of Republicans and Democrats held this opinion. When it comes to interracial relationships, 26 percent of the people in the party of Lincoln were against the idea, compared with 12 percent of Dems.
This study not only highlights the differences between how members of different political parties view race and inequality in America but also offers insight into the support behind the GOP political agenda. It is easy to dismantle health care for the uninsured and defund social programs when the members of your party believe that the reason for economic inequality is that blacks just aren’t working as hard. Why not demonize diversity and leveling the playing fields when your constituents believe that barely literate black people are benefiting from affirmative action?
For conservatives, facts like climate change research, the math of trickle-down economics, and birth certificates don’t matter. They don’t care about the numbers showing that whites earn more money than better-educated blacks at every level. They choose to ignore the statistics showing that more unemployed African Americans search for work than do their jobless white counterparts. When Republicans hear that job applicants with “black-sounding names” get fewer callbacks, apparently they don’t believe it.
Upon hearing the results of the survey, black America collectively gave a Kanye shrug, muttered, “That seems about right,” and continued about their business. Meanwhile, the National Opinion Research Center hasn’t yet released the results of its poll that definitively prove that most Americans think water is wet.