Friday, January 18, 2013

Liberals according to conservatives, conservatives according to liberals

A 2006 CBS News surveys asked people who said they were conservative a few questions about liberals and asked people who said they were liberals the same questions about conservatives (people who said they were moderate weren't asked about either).  The questions were:

1.  People who are ____ feel differently than I do about politics, but they probably share many of my other values and goals; OR 2. People who are _____ feel differently than I do about politics, and they probably do not share many of my other values or goals, either.
2.  In general, do you think most _____ have beliefs and ideas that are
usually reasonable, even if you disagree with them, or are their beliefs and
ideas usually unreasonable?
3.  Compared to most [your group], do you think most [other group] generally
tend to be richer, poorer, or economically about the same as most [your group]?
4.   Compared to most [your group], do you think most [other group] are
generally more informed about the world, less informed, or about as
informed about the world as most [your group]?

The following numbers show what each group says about the "other side."
                                                Conservatives           Liberals
Share values            39%                   44%
Don't share             57%                   54%

Reasonable              45%                   51%
Unreasonable            48%                   41%

Richer                  26%                   58%
Same                    57%                   36%
Poorer                   9%                    2%

More informed            9%                    6%
Same                    67%                   58%
Less informed           21%                   32%

For example, 39% of conservatives say that liberals share their values and goals; 44% of liberals say conservatives share their values and goals.  On the first two questions, liberals seem to have a slightly more favorable view of conservatives than conservatives do of liberals (the differences aren't statistically significant, but are close enough to be worth taking seriously).  On the third, there's a definite tendency to see "them" as richer than "us," but it's stronger among liberals--most conservatives think that the two groups are the same, while most liberals think that conservatives are richer.  On the last, there's a tendency to see "them" as less informed, and it is stronger among liberals. 

To summarize, it seems like conservatives are (a little) more likely to think of liberals as unreasonable people who don't share their values, and liberals are more likely to think of conservatives as poorly informed.

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