I’m never quite sure how seriously to take survey results, and today Paul Waldman points to a new PRRI survey that I really, really don’t want to take seriously. Here it is:
Thanks to a baker in Colorado, we’re all accustomed to the idea that conservatives think business owners should be free to refuse service to gay people if their refusal is based on religious belief. But apparently large numbers of them also think it’s fine to refuse service to Muslims, Jews, and African Americans.
If it’s religiously based, of course.
As it happens, there are a disturbingly large number of Democrats who also think this kind of discrimination is OK. But there’s an odd difference. Among Democrats, there’s apparently a single, smallish contingent—around 14-19 percent of the total—that thinks it’s OK to discriminate against anyone. But among Republicans, it varies. About 18 percent think it’s OK to discriminate against blacks compared to 47 percent who think it’s OK to discriminate against gay people. Jews and Muslims and atheists are in the middle. This suggests that, for whatever reason, there’s a liberal bloc that, on principle, thinks businesses should be allowed to discriminate however they want. Conservatives, by contrast, don’t think that. They endorse discrimination more or less strongly depending on how much they dislike the group in question.
So to circle back to the beginning, I wonder how seriously to take this? Obviously the Colorado baker case has gotten everyone’s attention, which is why the numbers supporting discrimination have gone up over the past five years. But does this also mean that this is, like so many other things, basically just a tribal question these days? That is, your answer is less about discrimination itself, and more about simply having the view associated with your side? I hope so. But I fear it might not be.