About a month ago, Pew Research released the results of a word association survey it conducted in late April. Word association is by some distance removed from anything actionable, but the survey is nonetheless useful in calibrating common perception with the actual feelings of various groups of people. A few instances of this follow.
- Awhile back, I had some fun creating hypothetical electoral maps portraying what the outcome of the 2008 Presidential election would've been if only select demographic groups were allowed to vote. As has been the case for Democrats for decades, Obama performs better if suffrage is extended to women and denied to men.
I was not making a novel observation in pointing out that the female voting behavior is steadily pushing the country in a leftward direction. I first encountered it in John Lott's book Freedonomics. The Pew survey reinforces that argument. "Socialism" is favorably perceived by 33% of women to 25% of men. It is viewed unfavorably by a slim majority of women (54%) compared to two-thirds of men (65%). "Capitalism", in contrast, is viewed favorably by 59% of men but only 47% of women. It invokes negative feelings in 34% of men and 40% of women.
- While the socialist indoctrination that putatively takes place at colleges throughout the country may be a rallying cry for cultural conservatives, it is among those who've never set foot on a university campus that socialism's base of support is the widest. Among those with a high school education or less, 35% view the word "socialism" favorably, compared to only 23% of college graduates.
- Blacks, who stand to benefit from socialist economic policies at the expense of white Americans, are understandably much more favorably inclined toward socialism than whites are. While 53% of blacks view the term "socialism" favorably, just 24% of whites do.
- Despite the attempts by some leftwing activists to portray "states' rights" as code words for racial resegregation, the reinstatement of Jim Crow laws, and even a desire to resurrect the institution of slavery in the US, the vast majority of the population (77% positive, 15% negative) feels an affinity for the phrase. The sentiments are overwhelming across the political spectrum. Among Democrats, 71% view it positively to 21% negatively.
- Militancy is a guy's game. Nearly all the wars in human history have been started by men, etc, and despite the recent strides forward women have made in Afghanistan, terrorism is a masculine line of work. Predictably, men are twice as likely as women (28% to 14%) to have a positive view of the word "militia".
- Surprisingly, Democrats warm to the word "libertarian" more than Republicans do (31% to 39%). TGGP half-heartedly suggested it might be due to some political conservatives being unfamiliar with the term but reacting negatively to it anyway because it sounds similar to the word "liberal". That seems plausible enough to me. Independents like "libertarian" more than anyone else does (44%), of course--it's not liberal or conservative, and neither are they!