Saturday, October 4, 2014

The 14 percent

In sportscasters' language, opponents of the Washington Redskins name have been moving the ball at will recently.  This isn't because of overwhelming public support.  In 1992, an ABC News/Washington Post poll asked:  "Some people say that the Washington Redskins should change its team name because it is offensive to native American Indians. Others say the name is not intended to be offensive, and should not be changed. What about you: Should the Redskins change their team name, or not?"  The same question was also asked in 2013 and 2014 in an Associated Press/Gfk poll.  The results:

            Should            Should Not
1992        7%                  89%
2013      11%                  79%
2014      14%                  83%

Although support for a name change is growing, it's still a pretty small minority.  What sort of people support a name change?  Unfortunately, the individual-level data for the 2013 and 2014 surveys are not available, but a 2010 Vanity Fair/CBS News poll asked a similar question:  "The University of North Dakota has just retired its mascot, the Fighting Sioux, on the grounds that it gives offense to Native Americans.  What should happen to other Native American references that are common in sports, such as the Washington Redskins and the Atlanta Braves?...Do you think they should be retired because they are offensive to Native Americans, or should they be kept because this kind of political correctness has gone too far?"  12% said that the names should be retired and 78% said that they should not.

Party identification and self-rated political ideology made a substantial difference:  about 20% of Democrats and liberals, and only 6 or 7 percent of Republicans and conservatives supported a name change.  Age made a difference:  people 18-29 were more likely to support a change.  So did education:  people with graduate degrees were more likely to support a change.  So did ethnicity:  blacks, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans were all more likely to support a change.  Region didn't make much difference--southerners were a bit less likely to support a change, but there were no clear differences between the Northeast, Midwest, and West.  Income didn't make much difference, either.  However, people living in cities were more likely to support a name change.

Putting it together, Washington DC has the demographics that would maximize support for a change.  I suspect that another factor is that the team has been generally disappointing for a long time.

[data from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research]

No comments:

Post a Comment