Friday, May 3, 2013

NYT/CBS News Poll: Gender, Education, and Age Gaps on Gun Control and Other Issues

Yesterday, the New York Times and CBS News released a poll on domestic policy to complement their recent one on foreign policy, on which I’ve written a diary.  I wanted to look at the demographic divides behind the recent poll data.  Most of it aligns with expectations, but some demographic gaps I found to be genuinely surprising.
It is probably common knowledge that there is a gender gap on gun control with women favoring it much more strongly than men.  Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how large that gap is.
In general, do you think gun control laws should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now?
54% more strict
•    43% of men vs. 64% of women
•    81% of Democrats vs. 35% of Republicans vs. 49% of Independents
•    52% no college vs. 60% college
•    48% of 30-44 year-old’s vs. 65% of 65+
10% less strict
•    15% of men vs. 5% of women
•    5% of Democrats vs. 13% of Republicans vs. 11% of Independents
•    12% of 18-29 and 13% of 30-44 vs. 4% of 65+
33% kept as they are
•    39% of men vs. 28% of women
•    51% of Republicans vs. 14% of Democrats vs. 37% of Independents
A plurality of all groups except for Republicans wanted gun control laws to be stricter.  
Do you favor or oppose a nationwide ban on semi-automatic weapons — including some rifles, pistols, and shotguns that have detachable magazines, allowing them to rapidly fire a high number of rounds?
50% favor ban
•    41% of men vs. 58% of women
•    41% of Republicans vs. 65% of Democrats vs. 46% of Independents
•    46% no college vs. 59% college
•    46% 18-44 vs. 57% 65+
47% oppose ban
•    56% of men vs. 38% of women
•    56% of Republicans vs. 32% of Democrats vs. 52% of Independents
•    51% no college vs. 37% college
Groups that favor the ban (plurality/majority): Women, Democrats, College graduates, 45+
Groups that oppose ban (plurality/majority): Men, Republicans & Independents, No college, <45
In other words, our gun control supporters are more likely to be older, college-educated Democratic, and female, and the strongest gun control opponents are more likely younger, not-college-educated, Republican, and male.  Surprise!
I found it interesting, though, how Independents were much closer to Republicans than they were to Democrats.  I've read articles before about how many former Republicans are now labeling themselves as Independents because of the tarnished party brand, which could offer an explanation.
Do you favor or oppose a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers?
87% Favor vs. 11% oppose
All demographics favor with over 83% majority, with the aforementioned demographic and political divides still holding.
If you HAD to choose ONE, which of the following domestic programs would you be willing to reduce in order to cut government spending ?
I think this question is interesting in that it reveals people's priorities, but I think it creates the false impression of a zero-sum game in which we MUST cut something.
Education: 7%
Only among seniors (65+) did the percentage choosing education cuts extend into double digits, 12%.
Roads, Bridges, & Other Infrastructure: 29%
36% of women vs. 22% of men
40% of Democrats vs. 28% of Independents vs. 20% of Republicans
33% of 30-44 year-olds vs. 21% of seniors
34% of those with incomes <$50K vs. 21% of those with incomes >$50K
Science & Medical Research: 16%
There was relative agreement here with %'s ranging from a low of 11% among Republicans to a high of 19% among 30-44 year-olds.  Surprisingly, Democrats (18%) chose this more than Republicans did although that is less surprising when you look at the next category.
Aid to the unemployed and poor: 29%
22% of Women vs. 35% of Men
17% of Democrats vs. 28% of Independents vs. 44% of Republicans
42% of 18-29 year-olds vs. 21% of seniors
21% of those with incomes < $50K vs. 44% of those with incomes > $50K
Pluralities of women (36%), Democrats (40%), 30-44 year-olds (33%), 45-64 year-olds (29%), those without college degrees (31%), and those with incomes < $50 K (34%) chose roads, bridges, & infrastructure as their budgetary sacrifice.
Pluralities of men (35%), Republicans, (44%), 18-29 year-olds (42%), college graduates (31%), and those with incomes > $100K (44%) chose aid to the unemployed and the poor as their budgetary sacrifice.
A plurality of seniors (33%) couldn't decide and chose "don't know/no answer."
The largest items in the federal budget are Medicare, the government health insurance program for seniors, Social Security and the military. If you HAD to choose ONE, which of the following programs would you be willing to change in order to cut government spending?
Again, this creates a false zero-sum game but has value in revealing policy priorities.
Pluralities of all groups except for Republicans chose to cut the military.  The percentage of Republicans who chose military cuts (31%) just edge out the percentage that wanted Medicare cuts (30%).
43% said cut the MILITARY budget
        58% of Democrats vs. 42% of Independents vs. 30% of Republicans
        48% of college graduates vs. 41% of non-graduates
        37% of 18-29 year-old's vs. 47% of 65+ year-old's
        45% of those with incomes < $100 K vs. 39% of those with incomes > $100K
23% said cut MEDICARE
         14% of Democrats vs. 23% of Independents vs. 31% of Republicans
         25% of 18-29 year-old's and 28% of 30-44 year-old's vs. 19% of 45-64 year-old's and 18% of seniors
         29% of those with income > $100 K vs. 19% of those with income < $50K

13% said cut SOCIAL SECURITY

         In only two groups did the percentage choosing to cut Social Security pass    20%: 18-29 year-old's (23%) and those with incomes larger than $100K (21%)
I was particularly disheartened by the lack of social conscience among the people of my generation (the millennial crowd) shown by the weakest support for military cuts and strong support for cutting aid to the poor and unemployed.
The comparatively weak support for military cuts among millennials reminded me of a few other troubling statistics I've seen recently.  In a Gallup poll marking the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, millennials (18-29) were the only age group to believe that going into Vietnam in the 1960s was NOT a mistake (41-43) and had the highest support for the Iraq War of any age group.  Likewise, according to a recent study by the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, young people have more faith in the military than in any other major social/political institution.

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