[Whites’ Views on Obama] By Age Group, Sex, and Political Involvement

Whites are mostly negative about Obama, as consistently only around 30% approve of him (despite the Nobel Peace Prize). This 30% figure is far from the whole story. Wide differences in outlook on Obama within the White population are worth considering.

Modern polling allows us to open up a window onto, and look closely at, these differences. There are some surprises.


Using data collected by Reuters’ scientific polling in 2014 and 2015 (for a sample group of over 50,000 Whites), I present an in-depth analysis of White attitudes towards Obama:

1. Whites’ Views on Obama by Group, Sex, and Political Involvement [This Post]
2. Whites’ Views on Obama by Religious Identification and Race
3. Whites’ Views on Obama by Sexual Orientation
4. Whites’ Views on Obama by Income
5. Whites’ Views on Obama by Marital Status and Children
6. Whites’ Views on Obama by Education Attained

In this post:

Age, Sex, and Level of Political Involvement

obama_reuterspoll_1agegender

White Americans’ Views of Obama by Age, Gender, and Political Involvement. [Click to Enlarge]


Summary of Key Points
(1) The contention that “White women” or “young White women” represent a core Obama constituency is shown to be false. (2) There is not really a “continuum” of steadily lessening support for Obama with higher age as we might expect, but rather a curiously smooth and neat split into two camps. Among men, those born in or after the mid-1970s support Obama at eleven points higher than those born in the early 1970s or earlier. (Just look at the data above if this is hard to understand in text.)


Analysis

Level of Political Involvement / Enthusiasm
Actually, there are no big difference between all Whites, Whites registered to vote, and White likely voters. The most striking thing about those whom Reuters identified as likely voters is that so many more “strongly disapprove” of Obama. This explains Republican success in the congressional elections of 2014, but is nothing new to us.

Political Involvement
There was much talk in 2008 and 2012 about low White turnout. In 2012, White turnout sagged below Black turnout in key states, which apparently cost Romney the election. This led to speculation about White political pessimism, which might imply that those who have bothered to maintain registration to vote are more pro-Obama. This is not necessarily supported by this data. “Core Approval” of Obama is higher, but only because “Mixed” and “Lean” decrease, which is unsurprising given differing levels of political engagement. In “Widest Approval”, the increase in approval is still within the margin of error. Among older people, there is no difference.

Overall Men vs. Women
White men and women overall have very similar feelings about Obama; almost identical. “Core Approval” showing men to be apparently more anti-Obama is an artifact of women characteristically choosing “Mixed Feelings” at a far higher rate. As for the camp that holds that White women support Obama at a much higher rate, this comprehensive polling data suggests that this idea is false, at least as of 2014, and among the young the opposite may more likely be true (see “Young Men vs. Young Women” below).

Young Men vs. Young Women
The adherents of the “Women Support Obama” hypothesis described above might contend that it is actually young women who support him, and by an alarming margin (they say, without data) which spells serious social decline. One surprise in this dataset is that this is not only untrue, but if anything White men under 40 (born ~1974 to 1997 here) actually support Obama more. Look carefully at “Widest Approval” and “Core Approval”, comparing men’s and women’s age brackets. The margins of error nearly touch, but among Under-40 White women, only 35.3% (+/- 1%) say they support Obama versus 39.9% (+/- 1.6%) of men. The gap is even higher for “Core Approval”. Among those born between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s (age 30-39), the gap is widest. The gap disappears for those born before 1974.

obama_reuterspoll_1agegender

Generation Gap: White Men
Among men, support for Obama is split neatly in two, between those born before 1974 (30% in “Widest Approval”) and those born after 1974 (40% in “Widest Approval”). I would suggest that this is a result of political-correctness that children have been subject to in the USA’s K-12 system beginning in the 1980s. For example, the Martin Luther King holiday was passed in the 1980s and by the 1990s most of the USA’s kindergartens and elementary schools had become steeped in the cult of MLK; the greatness of “Harriet Tubman”; the villainousness of the slave-trading, Indian-genociding Founding Fathers; and so on. Those born in the late 1970s and on were thick in it, in a way their forebears weren’t. To avoid any further digression here, I would suggest that public schools in much of the USA “trained” children to believe implicitly in a kind of “Nonwhite moral superiority” doctrine, reinforced by the cultural promotion of Black entertainers, which was ramped up about the same time. Though eventually many came to reject this doctrine, a certain number of Whites never questioned it and so, bluntly stated, many Whites reflexively supporting Obama may be doing so simply because he is Black (as, being our moral superiors, Blacks deserve success).

Generation Gap: White Women
To the extent this conjecture (in “Generation Gap: White Men” above) is true, it is a curious result because while White women show the same trend (a split born between before ’74 or so and born thereafter), they show it more weakly. I would expect women to be more prone to following the forces of their socialization (i.e., Nonwhite Moral Superiority doctrine here). White women, like White men, tend to get more anti-Obama as they get older, with one curious exception: White women over 50 and especially over 60 (born before 1955) are more pro-Obama than White women in their 40s (born about 1965 to 1974). Not by a lot, but outside the margin of error. This is surprising, especially as we might otherwise expect anti-Obama sentiment to increase with age. I suspect the dip in support for Obama among women in their 30s is a product of motherhood. Being a White mother of a young child substantially decreases support for Obama according to the data; I will present this in another post.


Methodology
This is the combined data for all Reuters polls, conducted in the six months up to January 20th, 2015, which yields a huge sample size of 50,540 White Americans. Of course they polled all races, but their online database allows us to look at only Whites if we so wish. This large sample group yields a small margin of error for most demographic subsets. Two other benefits of this data are: (1) Lots of demographic breakdowns are available, and (2) a continuum of possible responses is provided rather than a clumsy “approve / disapprove” binary. The choices are: “Strongly Disapprove” — “Somewhat Disapprove” — “Lean Disapprove” — “Mixed Feelings” — “Lean Approve” — “Somewhat Approve” — “Strongly Approve”. This allows for more precise results. All this can be recreated at polling.reuters.com.

The three calculations on the right side of each chart are to help make sense of the data:

  • “Core Approval” is the sum of a demographic’s “Somewhat Approve”, “Strongly Approve” percentages. So if Group A has a “Somewhat Approve” share of 15% and a “Strongly Approve” share of 10%, the “Core Approval” will be 25%.
  • “Widest Approval” is Core Approval with “Lean Approve” and half of “Mixed Feelings” also added. Taking half probably as good a way as any to deal with the people with mixed feelings.
  • Weighted Approval. This is a weighting of each demographic’s scores according to the scores on the charts. To account for intensity of feeling, “Strongly Disapprove” is weighted at -0.5 and “Strongly Approve” is weighted at 10.5.


Other demographic breakdowns by:

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7 Responses to [Whites’ Views on Obama] By Age Group, Sex, and Political Involvement

  1. Great post. This interactive reuters polling data is a gold mine.

  2. Pingback: [White Support for Obama] By Religious Identification and Race | Hail To You

  3. Pingback: [White Support for Obama] By Sexual Orientation | Hail To You

  4. Pingback: [White Support for Obama] By Income | Hail To You

  5. Pingback: [Whites’ Views on Obama] By Marital Status and Children | Hail To You

  6. Pingback: [Whites’ Views on Obama] By Education | Hail To You

  7. Pingback: Whites’ Views on Obama 2014-2015, by Demographics (Summary) | Hail To You

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