CORRECTED Graph for “Conflicted Conservatives”

by John Sides on February 25, 2010 · 13 comments

in Public opinion


In comments on my first post, Marty Gilens alerts me to errors in the 2008 ANES data file that involve the spending variables that I used (noted here on their webpage). It is my fault for not having seen this. I have downloaded the corrected variables and revised the graph, which is above.

The story changes with regard to two programs—welfare and foreign aid—both of which are far less popular than in the original graph. About 49% of conservatives want to cut or eliminate foreign aid; 35% want to cut or eliminate welfare. The other programs, however, are again quite popular. The average percentage of conservatives who want to increase spending is unchanged: about 54%.

Thus, the original point of the Salon piece (to which corrections are forthcoming) remains: despite opposition to government spending in general, conservatives do not advocate reductions in government spending on particular programs.

Update: the corrected Salon piece is here.

{ 11 comments }

KenS February 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm

This actually makes more sense. Conservatives are more than happy to cut spending on “them.”

FosterBoondoggle February 25, 2010 at 3:42 pm

The new result is also consistent with past surveys showing that the public grossly overestimates the amount of gov’t spending on foreign aid and welfare. Foreign aid is

dbeach February 25, 2010 at 3:59 pm

What’s the difference between “welfare programs” and “aid to the poor”? And why do conservatives want to cut one but not the other?

Sean Cain February 25, 2010 at 4:16 pm

I’ve shown survey results like this in voting and public opinion classes, and the difference between “welfare programs” and “aid to the poor” definitely makes good food for thought. It’s likely a matter of framing. The term “welfare” has become such a pariah over the years that to many Americans it means “permanent aid to people who don’t deserve it” rather than “aid to the poor.” That’s why the HHS Office of Family Assistance calls it aid to the poor program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to reflect public opinion on the matter.

ratgov February 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I wonder two things:

First, is “War of terrorism” the same as the general defense budget?

Second, now that you have this graph I’d love to see the actual impact on the budget if you took each program mentioned here, and cut it by 50% times the percent of people that want it cut. My guess is less than a 5% decrease in the budget.

Sebastian February 25, 2010 at 4:20 pm

What’s the difference between “welfare programs” and “aid to the poor”? And why do conservatives want to cut one but not the other?”

Welfare is what (black) ‘welfare moms’ driving Cadillacs get. Aid to the poor is what (white) you get when you fall on hard times.
Sure, that’s snark, but it’s also true – Reagan-Republicans have been incredibly effective in framing welfare both in racialized terms and in the context of abuse. I’m actually surprised not more people want to cut this – would be interesting to check out ANES 2004 to see if people are more likely to want to cut welfare when the economy isn’t going to hell.

Matt Parker February 25, 2010 at 5:21 pm

yeah – now compare this to the share of federal spending in each section, and you see that with the exception of “Welfare”, which most people think of as public housing and food stamps, etc. but could include Medicaid, Medicare and CHIP, we’re talking relative peanuts.

JohnJay60 February 25, 2010 at 8:28 pm

So this means no aid to Israel? Let’s be explicit what is meant by ‘foreign aid’.

Alex February 26, 2010 at 11:09 am

Wheeeee…structural deficit forever!!!

Not Marc February 26, 2010 at 3:02 pm

The difference between the first graph and the corrected graph is probbaly that they weren’t including Republican “leaners”. I know I sound like a broken record but people are always forgetting to break independents out into left and right leaners…….

BitterlyClinging March 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Actually, the questionnaire asks folks to define themselves as different degrees of conservative or liberal. There are a few other questions however that seem to validate whether these folks are actually conservative or not.

For example, of the 624 respondents who claimed to be conservative, more than 80 didn’t know who Rush Limbaugh was. Many of the same 624 also gave Obama a high score of 100/100, while giving McCain a much lower score.

I know it’s fun to point out this alleged hypocrisy, but the data definitions are much too ambiguous to be of much value.

Maybe a more interesting study would compare folks who call themselves conservative with those who actually understands what it means to be a conservative.

By almost any definition a person can’t call himself / herself a conservative and agree with overall increased government spending.

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