Are Conservatives Easier to Manipulate?
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
A Gallup Poll on May 29 strikingly titled “U.S. Support for Euthanasia Hinges on How It’s Described” contains unambiguous new evidence that Republicans are more manipulable than Democrats—at least when the question concerns the important issue of whether or not a terminal patient’s request for assistance to die should be carried out by the person’s doctor. It reported that, “A May 2-7 Gallup survey finds 70% of Americans in favor of allowing doctors to hasten a terminally ill patient’s death when the matter is described as allowing doctors to ‘end the patient’s life by some painless means.’ At the same time, far fewer – 51% – support it when the process is described as doctors helping a patient ‘commit suicide.’”
The precise question in the latter instance was “When a person has a disease that cannot be cured and is living in severe pain, do you think doctors should or should not be allowed by law to assist the patient to commit suicide if the patient requests it?”
The remarkable finding was that 71% of Democrats, and 68% of Republicans, support a doctor’s ending a patient’s life by some painless means if the patient requests it and has a terminal illness, but only 60% of Democrats, and 41% of Republicans do when the question it phrased as “to assist the patient to commit suicide.”
That’s a fall-off from 71% down to 60% for Democrats – or a reduction of 15% – of Democrats, who can be manipulated by using different terminology; but it’s a fall-off from 68% down to 41% for Republicans – or a reduction of 40% – of Republicans, who can be manipulated by a mere synonymous rephrasing of the same question.
Or, to put that in the other way, based upon this poll, 85% of Democrats, versus only 60% of Republicans, were not manipulable on this issue – they responded to the issue itself, and not to the wording of it.
There is a vast amount of other empirical evidence showing that conservatives, and Republicans in particular, are more manipulable than non-conservatives.
A famous study by Jost, Glaser, Kruglansky and Sulloway, “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition,” in the May 2003 Psychological Bulletin , found that prejudices were even stronger among conservatives than among the general population.
An October 2003 survey, “Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War,” from worldpublicopinion.org (formerly “PIPA,” or Program on International Policy Attitudes) found that the audience of Fox News is highly Republican, but failed to provide any detailed breakdown. A more detailed study of this question, issued by rasmussenreports.com in June 2004, was headlined “Fox Fans Favor Bush 65% to 28%,” and noted, by way of contrast, that “CNN Fans Favor Kerry 63% to 26%.”
Furthermore, this survey found that, “In the race for Congress, Fox fans will vote for GOP candidates by a 56% to 25% margin. The CNN audience will vote Democratic by a 54% to 27% margin.” The PIPA study of “Misperceptions” and “the Iraq War” found: “The extent of Americans’ misperceptions vary significantly depending on their source of news. Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions. Those who receive most of their news from NPR or PBS are less likely to have misperceptions. These variations cannot simply be explained as a result of differences in the demographic characteristics of each audience, because these variations can also be found when comparing the demographic subgroups of each audience.”
On thinkprogress.org headlined “Fox News Viewers Are the Most Misinformed: A Seventh Study Arrives to Prove It,” and Chris Mooney linked to each of the seven different studies that had been done of this subject, all of which found the same thing. The latest study was titled “Climate on Cable: The Nature and Impact of Global Warming Coverage on Fox News [FNC], CNN, and MSNBC.” This latest study closed by saying: “In sum, the results overwhelmingly support Hypothesis 4 [that FNC viewers rejected the reality of global warming, whereas CNN/MSNBC viewers accepted its reality], demonstrating that Fox News viewing is associated with lower levels of global warming acceptance, with the reverse true for CNN/MSNBC viewing. ... [Moreover, a separate finding was:] The views of Republicans seem to reflect the cable news outlet they watch, regardless of whether it is Fox or CNN/MSNBC. Democrats, on the other hand, do not vary significantly in their global warming beliefs as a function of cable news.”2011,