“Our data indicates that some respondents who lean toward the Republican Party are less likely to take part in follow-up surveys. But we didn’t find ourselves in a situation where all Republicans were not answering, and we were able to find a few clues as to who exactly these Republican non-respondents could be.”
“This more mainstream version of the replacement theory hides behind justifications that the criticism of changing American demographics is about politics and power. It’s a narrative so prevalent on the right that nearly half of Republicans believe that immigrants are being brought to the country for political gains. According to a poll conducted in December by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 47 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement that “there is a group of people in this country who are trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants who agree with their political views.”
But those justifications are built on false assumptions about American demographics and immigration: that white people will soon be a minority in this country, that immigrants and non-white voters are all Democrats, and that no longer being the majority group means a loss of power. When those assumptions are torn down, the true justifications for these fears become transparent.
The theory’s first inaccurate assumption is that white Americans will soon become a minority population. But using any nuanced reading of the data, that’s not true. Yes, in 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau published a population projection that by the year 2044, non-Hispanic white Americans would no longer be a numerical majority in the country. But not being the majority is not the same as being a minority: Even in that projection, non-Hispanic white Americans would still make up a plurality of the population compared with any other race. And non-Hispanic white Americans are not the only white Americans. When you include American Latinos who identify as solely white, you wind up with “more than 70 percent of the population identifying at least in part as white in 2044 and over two-thirds in 2060,” according to research published last year in the journal “Perspectives on Politics.””
“The same research showed that presenting the demographic-shifts story as “majority-minority by 2044” prompts white Americans to say they feel more anxious and less hopeful. But when you present the same demographic changes in a more nuanced (and accurate) narrative around a rise in multiculturalism and Americans who identify as more than one race, white Americans’ self-reported anxiety was lower, even compared with a control group presented with basic facts about demographic changes with no narrative framing, according to the same study.
It’s almost like inaccurately framing demographic shifts as a zero-sum game leads to inaccurate perceptions among Americans that can amplify fear and resentment.”
“Another plot hole in the mainstream replacement narrative is the assumption that immigrants will solely support the Democratic party. Stefanik’s campaign ran a Facebook ad in September that echoed replacement-theory rhetoric. “Radical Democrats” were planning “a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION,” the ad claimed. “Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”
Carlson, too, has repeatedly warned of a so-called Democratic plot to “import an entirely new electorate from the Third World and change the demographics of the U.S. so completely they will never lose again.”
But even he concedes that this narrative is flawed, pointing out in his show last week that many non-white and immigrant voters are, in fact, Republican. In the 2020 election, roughly 2 in 5 Latino voters cast a ballot for then-President Donald Trump. And, as my colleague Alex Samuels has written, messaging about racial grievances might, perhaps counterintuitively, attract some Latino voters to the Republican Party. In fact, the GOP attracts voters from every racial group, and while white voters may be its base, not all nonwhite or immigrant voters are Democrats.”
“According to a 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center, for example, only 17 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning Americans said there is “a lot” of discrimination against Black people in today’s society. That number rose to 26 percent when Republicans were asked whether they believed white people faced “a lot” of discrimination. And intense white racial resentment remains present both among Trump’s base and in our politics today. Case in point: Trump, who’s a (very, very early) favorite to win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is still hitting that same drum; during a recent political event, the former president went so far as to falsely claim that white people were currently being discriminated against and sent to the “back of the line” when it came to receiving COVID-19 vaccines and treatment.”
“Trump is not the first white person to feel like a victim of discrimination or to make claims in that spirit. This phenomenon started long before him. But in the U.S., if we look at things like the racial wealth gap, mortgage denial rates, COVID-19 vaccination and illness rates, police violence rates or myriad other data sets, we quickly see plenty of systemic biases against Black Americans and other minority groups (such as increasing hate crimes against Asian Americans). You can’t, however, find such widespread evidence for anti-white discrimination. So why have many white Americans started to see themselves as the victims of racial discrimination?”
“On Jan. 18, 1943, a ban on sliced bread was imposed by Secretary of Agriculture Claude R. Wickard, who held the position of Food Administrator. According to the New York Times, officials explained that “the ready-sliced loaf must have a heavier wrapping than an unsliced one if it is not to dry out.” The outcry among homemakers was loud enough for Wickard to discover that there was enough wrapping paper to rescind the ban — giving permanent life to the compliment, “the greatest thing since sliced bread.””
“You can understand why the White House would welcome a new Reuters poll finding more than three in five Americans say they’d “willingly” pay more at the gas pump to support Ukraine in its war with Russia.
Of course, Americans also say they plan to exercise more, eat more vegetables and watch more documentaries on television.”
“In the absence of a direct attack, the patience of Americans fades. The shocks at the gas pumps in 1973 and 1979 were inflicted by OPEC, but Richard Nixon and later Jimmy Carter bore the political cost. Today, Republicans may stand and cheer during the State of the Union address when Biden assails Russia, but they are already blaming the president’s environmental and energy policies as the cost of gasoline rises, and that blame is likely to have political resonance.
All of which suggests that Biden and the Democrats may be wise not to put much stock in those encouraging poll numbers. History suggests they will have a half-life that will fade well before November.”
“A study published last September in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences challenges the notion that a substantial minority of Americans—more than two-fifths, according to some reports—condone political violence. The Dartmouth political scientist Sean
Westwood and his co-authors argue that “documented support for political violence is illusory, a product of ambiguous questions, conflated definitions, and disengaged respondents.”
Westwood et al. acknowledge that partisan animosity, a.k.a. “affective polarization,” has “increased significantly” during the last few decades. “While Americans are arguably no more ideologically polarized than in the recent past,” they say, “they hold more negative views toward the political opposition and more positive views toward members of their own party.” But at the same time, “evidence suggests that affective polarization is not related to and does not cause increases in support for political violence and is generally unrelated to political outcomes.” So what are we to make of claims that more than a third of Americans believe political violence is justified?
“Despite media attention,” Westwood et al. note, “political violence is rare, amounting to a little more than 1% of violent hate crimes in the United States.” They argue that “self-reported attitudes on political violence are biased upwards because of disengaged respondents, differing interpretations about questions relating to political violence, and personal dispositions towards violence that are unrelated to politics.”
Westwood et al. estimate that, “depending on how the question is asked, existing estimates of support for partisan violence are 30-900% too large.” In their study, “nearly all respondents support[ed] charging suspects who commit acts of political violence with a crime.” These findings, they say, “suggest that although recent acts of political violence dominate the news, they do not portend a new era of violent conflict.”
These conclusions are based on three surveys in which Westwood et al. presented respondents with specific scenarios involving different kinds of violence, varying in severity and motivation. “Ambiguous survey questions cause overestimates of support for violence,” they write. “Prior studies ask about general support for violence without offering context, leaving the respondent to infer what ‘violence’ means.” They also note that “prior work fails to distinguish between support for violence generally and support for political violence,” which “makes it seem like political violence is novel and unique.”
A third problem they identify is that “prior survey questions force respondents to select a response without providing a neutral midpoint or a ‘don’t know’ option,” which “causes disengaged respondents…to select an arbitrary or random response.” Since “current violence-support scales are coded such that four of five choices indicate acceptance of violence,” those arbitrary or random responses tend to “overstate support for violence.”
What happens when researchers try to address those weaknesses? In all three surveys that Westwood et al. conducted, “respondents overwhelmingly reject[ed] both political and non-political violence.” And while a substantial minority disagreed, that number was inflated by respondents who were classified as “disengaged” based on their failure to retain information from the brief scenarios they read.”
“We documented the partisan trade-off bias across five studies using online samples of a total of 1,236 participants, a mix of Republicans and Democrats. As an example, in one of our studies participants were randomly assigned to view a set of policy trade-offs, some proposed by Republicans and some proposed by Democrats. The policies dealt with taxes, environmental regulation, gun control and voting rights. Participants then rated how intentional they perceived the negative side effects of each policy to be. The more participants identified with the Republican Party, the more intentional they perceived the side effects of the Democratic-proposed policies to be, and the more participants identified with the Democratic Party, the more intentional they perceived the side effects of Republican-proposed policies to be.
In a nutshell, our studies showed that the negative side effects associated with different policy trade-offs are not interpreted by opponents as side effects at all, but as intended goals of the policy.”
“The good news is that by identifying the partisan trade-off bias, our research points a path forward: Policymakers who pay more attention to this bias might be better equipped to achieve compromise. This means that rather than focusing only on the main goal of a policy, they need to communicate clearly to the public what is intentional and what is a regrettable side-effect of that goal.”
“Trump after a tumultuous four years in office actually won more of the national popular vote in 2020 than he did in 2016, 46.9 percent compared to 46.1 percent. But what sealed his fate was the collapse of the independent and third-party vote, from a combined 5.7 percent to 1.8 percent, and the transference of much of that support to the Democratic nominee. Biden improved by 3.1 percentage points over Clinton, with surveys showing that people who in 2016 voted Libertarian or Green or Constitution overwhelmingly preferred the non-Trump Democrat.”
“Because the two-party system works like a pendulum, with the centralization of executive power and attention making much of politics a referendum on the sitting president, the independent anti-vote is likely to defrock Democrats in the 2022 midterms.
“If Biden is struggling to win independents and Hispanics, that could snuff out any hope Democrats have of holding either chamber of Congress,” Skelley wrote. “After all, independents backed Democrats in the 2018 midterms and Biden last November, and even though Republicans made gains with Hispanics in places like Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, Hispanics still largely backed Biden and helped him win in key swing states, like Arizona. But if Republicans can capitalize on Biden’s weakness among these groups, that could be their ticket back to controlling Congress next year.””