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Blacks Showing Decided Opposition to War

Blacks Showing Decided Opposition to War

Bush approval has strongest relationship to opinion about war

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The beginning of war with Iraq brought about a rally in support for military action, from percentages in the high 50s prior to the breakdown of the diplomatic process to the current 71% who say they favor the war. A closer look at the data from two Gallup Polls conducted since the war began shows that a majority of most demographic groups favor the war, with two exceptions being blacks and ideological liberals. Opposition among blacks is especially widespread, at 68%. Wide gaps in support also exist by party, gender, education, and income. A special analysis reveals that the strongest independent predictor of opinion on the war is approval of President Bush, followed by race, ideology, party, and income.

Support for the War by Group

Seventy-eight percent of men favor the war, compared with 66% of women -- a 12-percentage-point gap. Gender gaps have traditionally been evident in support for military action, although those gaps have narrowed in the post-Sept. 11 world. However, the current difference in support by gender is nearly identical to what it was at the beginning of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Then, a 10-point gap existed, as 86% of men and 76% of women approved of the United States' decision to go to war with Iraq to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait.

The racial gap -- more appropriately called a racial divide -- is much larger than the gender gap. While 78% of whites favor the war, just 29% of blacks do, for a gap of 49 points. Nearly 7 in 10 blacks, 68%, oppose the war.

There is no consistent pattern by age -- approval of the war is lowest among 18- to 29-year-olds, at 66%, and highest among 30- to 49-year-olds, at 75%. Sixty-nine percent of 50- to 64-year-olds favor the war effort, as do 73% of those aged 65 and older. The current level of support among older Americans represents a shift in attitudes. For many months prior to the start of the war, Americans aged 65 and older tended to be the age group least likely to favor the war.

About two in three Americans residing in the East favor the war, the lowest level of support among the four regions of the country. This compares with 73% support in the Midwest, 71% in the South, and 77% in the West.

Throughout much of the prelude to the war, Americans with postgraduate educations were among the groups least in favor of military action against Iraq, and that is still the case now. Although a majority of postgraduates, 60%, favor the war, that level of support is significantly lower than that found in other educational groups. Roughly 7 in 10 Americans at other levels of educational attainment favor the war -- 69% of college graduates with no postgraduate education, 77% of those who attended college but did not receive a degree, and 72% of those who did not attend college at all.

There are clear income differences in the data. Among those whose household incomes are less than $30,000, just 58% favor the war. This compares with 78% of those whose incomes exceed $30,000 (there is essentially no difference in support among income groups above the $30,000 threshold).

Political leanings have always been a major factor in support for the military action against Iraq, and that trend continues. Ninety-three percent of Republicans favor the war, compared with 66% of independents and 53% of Democrats. Similarly, 84% of conservatives favor the war, as do 70% of moderates but only 44% of liberals. A majority of political liberals, 54%, oppose the war.

The starkest difference occurs when the data are divided according to Americans' evaluations of President Bush. Ninety-two percent of Americans who approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president favor the war. Among those who disapprove of Bush, 21% favor the war and 76% oppose it.

Opinion on U.S. War With Iraq by Demographic Group

 

Favor

Oppose

Sample Size

%

%

Overall

72

25

2,028

Republican

93

5

750

Conservative

84

13

892

Income $30,000 to less than $50,000

79

19

455

Men

78

20

964

White

78

20

1,673

Reside in West

77

21

441

Some college education

77

21

587

Income $50,000 or greater

77

21

960

Have children under 18

76

22

394

30-49 years old

75

23

844

Suburban

75

22

1,030

Rural

75

22

452

65 years and older

73

25

353

Reside in Midwest

73

24

474

High school education or less

72

26

644

Reside in South

71

26

656

Moderate

70

27

744

No children under 18

70

26

619

50-64 years old

69

27

517

College graduate only

69

28

367

Women

66

32

1,064

18-29 years old

66

32

301

Reside in East

66

32

457

Independent

66

31

667

Other race

63

34

114

Urban

62

36

546

Postgraduate education

60

38

419

Income less than $30,000

58

38

507

Democrat

53

44

584

Liberal

44

54

369

Black

29

68

141



Presidential Job Approval, Race Most Strongly Related to War Views

Many of the correlations outlined above hold up in a stricter statistical analysis. That is, many of the variables show an independent relationship with support for the war even when the impact of other variables is taken into account. For example, even though blacks are overwhelmingly Democratic in their partisan orientations, they still are much more likely to oppose the war (nearly five times more likely) than are non-blacks when their party identification and other characteristics are taken into account.

The analysis shows that of all the variables described above, approval of President Bush has the greatest independent impact on support for the war. Even though Republicans and conservatives show overwhelming support for the war (and are also highly likely to approve of the job Bush is doing as president), when the effects of these and other demographic variables are taken into account, Bush's job approval has the strongest independent relationship with support for the war.

Specifically, those who approve of the president are 7.1 times more likely, on average, to favor the war than are those who disapprove of Bush, taking into account the effects of other relevant variables. By comparison, Republicans are 3.4 times more likely than Democrats (and independents) to favor the war, and conservatives are 3.6 times more likely than liberals to favor it, taking into account the influence of other factors. The stronger influence of presidential approval can be probably explained by the reality that most Democrats and independents who support the war also approve of Bush, while most Democrats and independents who oppose the war also disapprove of Bush's job performance.

The following table shows the average increase in likelihood of favoring the war for each of the variables tested, with the variables ordered according to the strength of their influence. Figures around 1.0 (or –1.0) indicate no difference in likelihood, while numbers further away from 1.0 indicate increasing likelihood. Negative numbers indicate increased likelihood of opposing the war.

Variable

Relevant Comparison(s)

Increased Likelihood of Favoring War

Presidential Approval

Approve vs. Disapprove

7.1

Race

Black vs. Non-Black

(-4.8)

Ideology

Conservative vs. Liberal

3.6

Moderate vs. Liberal

1.8

Party Identification

Republican vs. Democrat

3.4

Income

Less than $30,000 vs. All others

(-3.0)

Gender

Male vs. Female

1.9

Education

Postgraduate vs. All others

(-1.4)

High school or less vs. All others

(-1.4)

Note: When taking into account the effect of other variables, age and region no longer show meaningful differences, and so are not included in the table. Statistics shown are the odds ratios found when using a logistic regression with opinion on the war as the dependent variable.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with combined randomly selected national sample of 2,028 adults, 18 years and older, conducted March 22-23 and March 24-25, 2003. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Gallup

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