Racism Increased Among Republicans in the Past Two Years: Press Misreports Story
Section: Spin News
Although the main stream media continues to not report legitimate election related stories such as Sensata which concern the character and even loyalty of Mitt Romney, virtually every major media outlet (over 300 reports) reported the results of a survey about racism and the Presidential election.
What the Report Actually Said
The scientific report (pdf) of a series of three surveys on racism was released two days ago. The surveys were conducted in 2008, 2010 and 2012. The report was written by Josh Pasek, Fellow University of Michigan, Jon A. Krosnick, Assistant Professor, Stanford University and Trevor Tompson, NORC at the University of Chicago.
Their conclusions were
“The influence of racial attitudes on approval of Mr. Obama’s job performance between 2010 and 2012.”
“Converting both anti‐Black and pro‐Black attitudes to neutral led to a projected increase in Mr. Obama’s 2012 vote share of 2 percentage points
and a projected decrease in Mr. Romney’s 2012 vote share of 3 percentage points.” Overall, racism on an explicit measure of racism increased over the last two years (47.6% in 2008; 47.3% in 2010; 50.9% in 2012).
However, they did say
“People who identified themselves as Republicans in 2012 expressed anti‐Black attitudes more often than did Republican identified in 2008.”
The researchers found the average explicit difference in prejudice didn’t increase between 2008 and 2010 but did increase between 2010 and 2012 (47.6% in 2008; 47.3% in 2010; 50.9% in 2012). However, in terms of actual percentages, there were no statistically significant differences over time .
The report also said
“In 2008, the proportion of people expressing anti‐Black attitudes was 31% among Democrats, 49% among independents, and 71% among Republicans.”
For the researchers’ explicit measure of racism, the report said
In 2012, the proportion of people expressing anti‐Black attitudes was 32% among Democrats, 48% among independents, and 79% among Republicans."
For an implicit measure of racism, the report said
“In 2012, the proportion of people expressing anti‐Black attitudes was 55% among Democrats, 49% among independents, and 64% among Republicans”
The obvious conclusion is that Republicans became more prejudiced and Independents and Democrats didn’t. The researchers noted that their finding are consistent with other research.
The researchers also reported that if the election were held in August when the survey was administered, President Obama would win the election.
“Given current actual levels of racism, the model predicts that the President would receive 47.1% of the vote and that Mr. Romney would receive 41.8% of the vote.”
However, the researchers noted
“Many events have happened since then and will continue to occur as we approach election day, and these events may alter the
impact of anti‐Black attitudes.”
The researchers also noted that other researchers have disputed whether their explicit measure of racism doesn’t measure other things. Explicit racial attitudes were measured by a “Symbolic Racism” questionnaire. Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the following statements:
1. Irish, Italians, Jewish, and other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without special favors.
2. It’s really a matter of some people just not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder, they could just be as well off as whites.
3. Generations of slavery have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.
4. Blacks are demanding too much from the rest of society.
5. Over the past few years, blacks have gotten LESS than they deserve.
6. Most blacks who receive money from welfare programs could get along without it if they tried.
7. Government officials usually pay less attention to a request or complaint from a black person than from a white person.
8. Over the past few years, blacks have gotten more ECONOMICALLY than they deserve.
9. Some people say that black leaders have been trying to push too fast. Others feel that they haven’t pushed fast enough. What do you think?
10. How much of the racial tension that exists in the United States today do you think blacks are responsible for creating?
11. How much discrimination against Blacks do you feel there is in the United States today, limiting their chances to get ahead?
The researcher said
“Implicit racial attitudes were measured using the Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP). Respondents saw a series of Chinese ideographs, one at a time, and assigned each one to one of two categories, more pleasant and less pleasant, placing approximately half of the ideographs in each. After respondents completed a sequence of practice trials during which only ideographs were shown, more ideographs were shown, but each one was preceded by a quick flash of a photograph of the face of either an African-American male or a White male (24 of each were used). When a face precedes an ideograph, people’s affective reactions to the face influence their later assessments of the ideograph (Payne, Cheng, Govorun, &
Stewart, 2005). People who have favorable feelings toward the face are more likely to label the ideograph as pleasant, and people who have unfavorable feelings toward the face are more likely to label the ideograph as unpleasant. Two scores were calculated for each respondent: the proportion of trials rated as pleasant when an African-American face was shown, and the proportion rated as pleasant when a White face was shown. We subtracted the score for trials with African-American faces from the score for trials with White faces and then recoded the result to range from 0 (meaning all ideographs preceded by African-American faces were labeled as more pleasant and all ideographs preceded by White faces were labeled as less pleasant) to 1 (meaning all ideographs preceded by African-American faces were labeled as more pleasant and all ideographs preceded
by White faces were labeled as less pleasant). "
This report should be good news for the President. Prior research on the 2008 race argued that racism cost President Obama more votes (about 7% of all votes) 3,4,5 as opposed to the 2% estimate of the current study.
However, the report argues that racism increased among conservatives who probably weren’t going to vote for him anyway. Some have argued that conservative race bating tactics (see above video), conservative attempts to blocking equal protection under the law and systematic rulings against discrimination by conservative judges all are reasons why conservatives are now more prejudiced than they were in 2010. In addition, Mr. Romney campaign’s largest corporate donors have paid out very large settlements for race discrimination. Mitt Romney is currently getting 0% of the African American vote. The reason for the unprecedented 0% vote is a result of his and Paul Ryan’s unwillingness to address the issue of poverty. In fact, they both seem so remote that they don’t seem to understand that poverty is a problem. There have also been many news reports of attempts to suppress minority voting.
Hundreds of Misleading News Reports
The Impartial Review News examined a hundred stories and found that all the news stories misreported the results of the survey. Stories reported that 2% fewer people would vote for the President than they did in 2008 and that it may cost him the election. As noted above, the researchers went out of their way to point out that was not the case. The researchers stated that the vote percentage was altered due to prejudice. They didn’t argue that situation was worse for the President than it was in 2008 because the increase in prejudice only occurred among conservatives who were not going to vote for him anyway.
Many stories misreported that these racist views could cost the President the election 2, 6. However, the researchers said the President would win the election if the election was held during the time of their survey and they cautioned against reporters inferring that the August results apply to what is going on now because information levels of voters have changed. The press ignored the warning and failed to report that they were ignoring it. That is, the press extrapolated the August data to the current political environment after being told not to do that. An extrapolation that isn’t warranted by the data if as the researchers noted information about the candidates has changed but this “mistake” by the press is helpful if you want to tell a story that the President has caused greater racism in American which is what most stories did.
All of these reports failed to note that prior research indicated President Obama lost more votes in 2008 due to racism. Instead, most stories claimed the exact opposite. They claimed it would cost the President more votes this time.
Many stories suggested without evidence that the increased racism was the result of the President not talking about race relations sufficiently 1. Others argued it was a backlash to the progress that has been made 2. Most argued the President Obama presidency was leading to greater expression of hatred against minorities. The most explicit was MSN that ran a story entitled “Having Black President Has Actually Made People More Racist, Poll Says” 7.
News stories 5 misreported the survey in many other ways as well. Most stories did not report that the increased racism occurred only among Republicans. Many stories misreported it was a problem in both parties and that most people in both parties had racist views. Those who did suggested it was a trivial difference and then emphasized that racism was high among Democrats as well. Some quoted a professor who said it was part of a growing polarization within our society who strangely argued that talking about the problem wouldn’t do any good.
Most media stories failed to point out that there were major differences in the degree of prejudice found among Republicans or went to great lengths to downplay the different. Many news stories reported that the survey found a slight increase in the overall amount of racism in the U.S. during the past four years (48% to 51%) but acted as if this was a meaningful difference when the result was within the margin of sampling error according to the survey methodology and then failed to report the statistically meaningful difference between the political parties. In fact, this difference was the focus of most reports. In other words, the entire premise of the new stories that have swept the Main Stream Media is false. There was no trend toward greater racism within the general population within the margin of sampling error! Of course, focusing on the overall makes sense for a story about the President not improving race relations.
Some news stories argued levels of racism were the same as they were four years ago. However, most stories argued the situation has gotten worse citing reports from African Americans that they had experienced more overt acts of prejudice against them. However, these news stories failed to point out that the increased levels of hatred was coming from conservatives. Not reporting this evidence made it easier to tell a story about the President not being able to improve racism
The news media also preferred to not report the results for the explicit test of racism but to report the results of the implicit test. NewsBusters busted the implicit difference test the researchers used by noting that the Republican explicit racism (79%) was higher than the disguised or implicit measure of racism (64%). NewsBusters noted that
“Anyone should recognize that it’s impossible for a higher percentage of a a group (79%) to express “explicit (anti-black) racism” and for only 64% of that same group to hold “anti-black feelings.”
That is, implicit measure is supposed to be more sensitive because is will uncover racism that people are unwilling to admit to explicitly. Therefore, the total percentage of racism should be higher with the implicit measure of racism. Actually, it was much less. Therefore, it appears the implicit measure of racism didn’t work very well. The researchers also found that it was not predictive of ratings about President Obama over and beyond what was predicted by the explicit measure. Therefore, what reporters should have done is just report the results for the explicit test. Instead, they did the exact opposite of that.
As NewsBusters points “anyone” (except apparently the main stream press) would have focused on the explicit measures of racism and thrown out the implicit measure but the press for the most part threw out the explicit measure and only reported the implicit measure. Why would the press do that?
Also, many news reports said there was little difference between Democrats and Republicans on the failed implicit test. Actually, even this test found racism was 9% higher among Republicans. Could it be that the press wanted to downplay the dramatically higher levels of racism in order to be consistent with the story that the President was to blame?
So far, The Impartial Review News found no stories that discussed the likely reasons for the increased racism among conservatives which include conservative race bating tactics (see above video), conservative attempts to blocking equal protection under the law or systematic rulings against discrimination by conservative judges.
The stories also failed to acknowledge that most of Romney campaign’s largest corporate donors have paid out very large settlements for race discrimination. The stories also fail to acknowledge that Mitt Romney is getting 0% of the African American vote. The reason for the unprecedented 0% vote is a result of his and Paul Ryan’s unwillingness to address the issue of poverty. In fact, they both seem so remote that they don’t seem to understand the problem.
Another question the press should have addressed is did the survey sample more Republicans than Democrats or more racists than non-racists. Fortunately, the Birther question was asked. Only 49% said the President was born in this country which is the lowest percentage ever reported in any poll The Impartial Review News could find in the past year but this fact wasn’t mentioned in any news reports. Recent polls put the number at 67%. The same poll put the number actually stating that the President wasn’t born in this country at 15%. However, the researchers’ survey put the number at 39%! In other words, the sample was severely biased toward Birthers and may have had a greater percentage of racists that other surveys. This bias wasn’t reported in any of the news articles.
There was more evidence of a conservative sample. A slightly higher percentage of the country is liberal. For the survey sample, respondents identified themselves as more conservative (another fact not reported in the press)
Politics 2010 2012 Very liberal 8% 5% Somewhat liberal 17% 15% Moderate 40% 41% Somewhat conservative 23% 24% Very conservative 11% 10% Not Answered 2% 5%
Most reports claimed the surveys were conducted in 2008 and 2012 (see above) but that’s not the case. The surveys were conducted in 2008, 2010 and 2012! So how did that happen? Jennifer Agiesta wrote the story for APNews which conducted the survey and includes the dates 2011, 2008 & 2012. Her Twitter account (email@example.com) has a picture of her holding a class of wine so perhaps she has an excuse but it seems most reporters simply
copiedher brief ideas as opposed to actually looking at the survey results (pdf) and research report that was referenced at the bottom of her brief article. However, the survey results for 2008 were missing from the report so if anything reporters should have been reporting about 2012 & 2010 differences, unless they actually didn’t bother to look at the survey results.
Some news papers did look at the survey results and then listed the questions that they believed concerned racism. Unfortunately, in every case that was examined they got the wrong questions! The actual questions are given above.
The conservative press either ignored the story or came up with a conspiracy theory that President Obama, the AP and the survey company were attempting to blame a forgone election loss on racism ( Limbaugh ) or argued that the surveyors were psychologically forcing respondents to report false stereotypes ( Wall Street Journal ). NewsBusters believed the press was attempting to guilt trip independent voters into voting for the President. That doesn’t make sense because most news reports stated directly or indirectly that the results were a result of a lack of leadership from the President. If you want to guilt trip independent voters you would mention that racism is a bad thing, not blame the President and would discuss the possible causes.
A very few stories correctly noted that the problem of prejudice is still with us.
Obviously, the Main Stream Media can’t be indicted of broad based Institutional racism based on a massive number of wildly inaccurate new stories about one survey so we’ll return to this issue in the future. The news reports clearly did base their story on an incomplete report and didn’t bother to look at the survey results and read the research report. This clearly suggests that reporters are too busy to accurately report the results of scientific surveys.
by Todd Miller
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