A wide-ranging survey recently completed by Zogby International to probe what Americans think about prejudice in the U.S. today generated some interesting findings, including:
* A racist lives next door - Most Americans believe they don't make decisions based on race...but think their neighbors do
* A gay President is okay, but most Americans wouldn't sanction his or her marriage
They also think most Americans believe:
* Republicans are most responsible for many of the world's ills
* Muslims are most likely to engage in terrorism
* People least want to work with the morbidly obese
Most Americans believe their fellow citizens hold strong biases against minorities, according to a landmark interactive poll by Zogby International, commissioned by GSN. The interactive survey of 10,387 American adults, one of the most comprehensive ever conducted on prejudice, according to Zogby, explores attitudes about race, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender, physical appearance, and politics. The poll's margin of error is +/- 1 percentage point.
What we are calling the "Report Card on American Prejudice" is part of a wide-ranging effort by GSN to spur a national dialogue on intolerance and bigotry. The survey's release provides a powerful follow-up to the July 17th premiere of the groundbreaking new television series, "Without Prejudice?" - which airs Tuesdays at 9 pm (Eastern) on GSN.
* On Race: While 67% of respondents claimed to have no preference themselves between a white, black or Arab clerk in a convenience store, 71% said, "most Americans" would seek out the white clerk. Just 1% said Americans' first choice would be to approach a black clerk, while less than 0.5% said the same for an Arab clerk. And yet, ironically, 55% of respondents said race relations have improved over the past 10 years. Other results on race (where respondents picked from among several races):
* 73% said in the event of a shooting, most Americans would expect African Americans to be involved
* 55% said in the event of a drug bust, most Americans would expect African Americans to be involved
* 53% said in the event of identity theft; most Americans would expect whites to be involved
* 70% said in the event of insurance fraud, most Americans would expect whites to be involved
* On Political Affiliation: When asked which political party most Americans believe to be responsible for many of the gravest problems facing the world:
* War: 62% blamed Republicans vs. 14% Democrats
* Global Warming: 56% blamed Republicans vs. 10% Democrats
* Prejudice: 52% blamed Republicans vs. 22% for Democrats
* Poverty: 49% held Republicans accountable; 29% Democrats
* Corruption: 47% blamed Republicans vs. 31% Democrats
* Crime: On this issue, respondents reversed the trend, with 42% blaming Democrats vs. 23% Republicans
* On Religion: By a wide margin, respondents believe Americans think Muslims are the most likely to engage in terrorism (83%). Moreover, 42% believe Americans would be most concerned about their child dating a Muslim; followed by an atheist (17%), and a Mormon (14%).In addition:
* 37% believe Americans think Catholics are most likely to be involved in sexual abuse - far more than any other religious group
* The poll turned up relatively few instances of Americans believing their neighbors have negative views toward Jews
* On Sexual Orientation & Gender: 62% said they believe Americans oppose same-sex marriages. Yet 58% would elect a gay person for president - about the same as for an Arab-American (57%), and more than for a person over age 70 (51%), or for an atheist (51%). On gender, 93% think Americans believe men are most responsible for crime, extra-marital affairs (82%), and sexually transmitted diseases (72%).
* On Disability: When asked to choose whom they believe most Americans would least want to work with, 26% of respondents said someone who is morbidly obese. Twenty-two percent said someone with a facial disfigurement. Respondents thought Americans would object much less to deaf (3%) and blind (1%) co-workers.
Over my years of polling, I've learned that Americans tend to offer socially acceptable responses when questioned on their own views about race and prejudice. That's why in this poll we predominantly asked people about "most Americans'" views on race and prejudice. We believe this provides a far more accurate window into how people really think about these issues. Americans are more forthcoming when discussing the problem in the context of their neighbors' lives than in the context of their own lives.