Sunday, October 31, 2010

Elitism, part 1

Elitism is in the news these days (there's a story in today's New York Times called "Elitism: The Charge Obama Can’t Shake", and it has 316 reader comments as I write this). A few years ago, I looked for survey questions on the topic, and to my surprise, found very few.  There was one interesting survey, and I'm going to do a post on it in a few days, but in checking for more recent questions I found one that deserves an entry by itself.

This was in June 2004--a Pew survey asked:  "Does the phrase...'he is a wealthy elitist' better describe John Kerry, George W. Bush or don't you think it describes either of them"  20% said Kerry, 27% said Bush, 25% said neither, 14% volunteered that it described both of them, and 15% weren't sure.  Almost everyone who commented on the 2004 election said that one of Kerry's biggest problem was that he came across as aloof and elitist,  while Bush somehow managed to seem like a regular guy despite his wealth and background.  But it seems like more ordinary voters actually saw Bush as the elitist.  True, this survey was taken early in the campaign, and maybe more people came to see Kerry as a wealthy elitist as the campaign went on.   But people knew Bush well by this time, so why didn't he do better?

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