Wednesday, July 22, 2020

New Cato Poll: The "Walking on Eggshells" Culture is Real. And Dangerous.

The Cato Institute is a libertarian "think tank" in Washington, DC. They do good work. They also sponsor polls, and one they partially released today - an online survey of 2,000 people conducted by - is especially interesting. It was conducted July 1-6, a busy week of violent protests, canceled & spontaneous Independence Day celebrations, and the continuing COVID crisis.

This survey focused on how fearful Americans are to express their political beliefs. While a slim majority of self-identified "very liberal" Americans are not afraid to express their view (anyone been on the "blue bubble" of Twitter lately?), a consistent 77% of Republicans and conservatives are fearful. I encourage you to read the results and click on the links for the actual survey results and crosstabs.

And yet, oddly, a large number of both "strong" liberals (50%) and "strong" conservatives (32%) think executives should be fired if they "privately" contribute to either Joe Biden or Donald Trump (the desire to fire Trump contributors is clearly higher, but, wow).

Some observations:

1. This is consistent with the 2016 post-election analysis by authors Brad Todd and Selena Zito, chronicled in their terrific book "The Great Revolt," that 34% of Trump voters never told anyone of their voting intentions.

2. This is also consistent with other polling, including Rasmussen, that upwards of 15% of Trump voters may not be disclosing their support to phone pollsters (they are less bashful in online polls).

3. It raises questions about the reliability, if not the validity, of political polling that is weaponized to suggest that Trump is losing, and possibly losing badly. Remember that refusal rates to participate in phone polling have reached 90%, well above the 40-60% rates from 30 years ago.

Many people have told me that they read but rarely if ever post on Twitter and other social media accounts, especially about anything political. And it is no wonder: every day we hear and see stories of average, generally non-political people being "canceled" just for expressing a political viewpoint, even a mild one, on social media. Here's the latest example, a Michigan teacher.

It is no wonder that people, especially given the violent outbursts from the worst elements of Black Lives Matter and Antifa, coupled with the stresses and pressures of government diktats and media-driven pandemic panic porn, are afraid to exercise their First Amendment freedoms. And that is truly frightening.

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