“Tidal Shifts” in Attitudes


This week the Gallup organization reported on a “>Seventy eight years ago (1937) Americans were willing to vote for a Catholic (60%), a woman (33%) and a Jew (46%) at enormously lower rates; in fact, the question wasn’t even posed for a possible Black candidate. In 1967 when the questions were asked again the results were better, but not at today’s level Catholic (90%), a woman (57%), a Jew (82%) and a Black (53%). The largest shifts are clearly in the willingness to support a Black (53% to 92%) or a woman candidate (33% to 92%) for president.

There are groups that fare less well—-Evangelicals (73%), Muslims (60%) and atheists (58%) found the least support were one of them to run for president. Gays and lesbians found support at 74%.

The reasons for whom one might support as a candidate are, undoubtedly, complex; some groups seem “safer” than others, stereotypes undoubtedly persist. But the increasing acceptance of diversity in America and the willingness to look beyond labels and pigeonholes is clear, if not universal.

Further, the pollsters’ questions are posed in the abstract (“If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be ______, would you vote for that person?”) and might elicit a different answer were there a real candidate with qualities and warts; but this is the best instrument we have.

It reiterates what President Obama said

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