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Are African-Americans Conservative, or Is Ideological Self-Identification Meaningless?

By Matthew Yglesias on February 4, 2010 at 10:00 am

"Are African-Americans Conservative, or Is Ideological Self-Identification Meaningless?"


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Gallup is touting a survey that says it shows that Asians are the most liberal racial/ethnic group in America:

Ideological Identification of Major U.S 1

I think that what this pretty clearly shows is that ideological self-identification surveys are not very useful. By any objective measure African-Americans are the most left-wing racial group in America. But African-Americans don’t seem to like the term “liberal.” And even though very few black people have conservative political opinions, 29 percent of them describe themselves as “conservative.” I think this proves beyond a doubt that widely touted results about ideological self-identification are producing garbage numbers. Actual people clearly don’t understand these terms the same way political reporters understand them. It’s just false that more African-Americans are conservative than liberal—that these surveys produce that result doesn’t tell us a surprising new fact about black political views, it tells us that the surveys are badly designed.

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