Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 29, 2007

FALSE WITNESS....James Dobson's Focus on the Family issued an alert to its membership yesterday bragging about the latest New York Times poll, which, the group said, showed that "America's young people continue to track conservative" on social issues. It took some breathtaking spin to reach this conclusion.

The survey collected opinions of 17- to 29-year-olds. Sixty-two percent said abortion should be outlawed or restricted. Danielle Huntley, a student at Boston College Law School and president of Students for Life of America, said she's proud her peers are not buying into liberal rhetoric.

"It illustrates that my generation realizes that they are survivors of Roe," she said. "Each of us born after 1973 could have been legally aborted by our parents."

Tom Robins of the College Republican National Committee told Family News in Focus the opposition to abortion can be attributed to young people's level of understanding. "Our generation has seen the effects of that," he said. "They understand that abortion on demand is not a healthy choice for America."

Fifty-four percent of young adults expressed opposition to same-sex marriage. Ron Luce with Teen Mania said the challenge is to make sure their opinions are founded in biblical truth.

OK, now let's look at what the poll actually said:

* On abortion: A combined 75% of voters under 30 want abortion rights to be legal.

* On gay rights: 44% said they believe that same-sex couples should be permitted to get married, and an additional 24% support civil unions, for a combined 68% who support some legal recognition of gay relationships.

* On ideology: 28% of young voters describe themselves as liberal (compared with 20% of the nation at large), while 27% call themselves conservative (compared with 32% of the general public).

If this is what it takes for a young generation to "track conservative" in Dobson's book, I couldn't be more pleased.

Steve Benen 3:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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Comments

dobson is either an idiot or he thinks his followers don't read.

the poll also said tha 17-29 yr olds tend to more likely identify with the democratic party rather than the gop.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on June 29, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Boy I am sure glad now I am well beyond 29 years.
At least Dobson can't mischaracterize my opinions.

Where's the catblog. I use it as the trigger to be able to leave work Friday afternoons.

Bring on Inkblot, puhleeze!

Posted by: optical weenie on June 29, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's even more funny because the NY Times headline reads "Young Americans Are Leaning Left, New Poll Finds."

One minor quibble:

* On abortion: A combined 75% of voters under 30 want abortion rights to be legal.

Well, sort of. According to the article, "24 percent said it should not be permitted at all, while 38 percent said it should be made available but with greater restrictions. Thirty-seven percent said it should be generally available."

So using Steve's math, one could just as accurately claim 62% of respondents want abortion rights to be more restricted or totally eliminated. In fact this is what Dobson did in his alert. It's misleading to characterize the data as either purely for or against legal abortion.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 29, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Each of us born after 1973 could have been legally aborted by our parents."

But we WEREN'T, which is how we're able to be aware of having not been aborted. Jesus Christ, I hate this appeal-to-narcissism argument.

Posted by: Jackmormon on June 29, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Well, sort of.

Hacksaw raises a very fair criticism, but let me elaborate. I characterized it this way specifically because Dobson's position is one of a flat ban on legal abortion. In this context, 75% of young voters -- the ones he says "track conservative" -- hold a position that is diametrically opposed to his policy agenda.

My point wasn't to toy with the numbers, but rather, to show opposition to Dobson's position within the generation he's praising.

Posted by: Steve Benen on June 29, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Note to Republican weenies: just because you weren't aborted doesn't mean your parents loved you. I mean, you're Republicans, right?

Posted by: Kenji on June 29, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Dobson is bug fuck crazy.

Now, don't you have some kitties to do guest cat blogging with?

Posted by: fourlegsgood on June 29, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

This part:

"while 27% call themselves conservative (compared with 32% of the general public)."

is really hard to spin. I mean, less young people consider themselves conservative than the general public, and Dobson claims young people are trending conservative?

WTF and WoW.

Posted by: A different Matt on June 29, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I was going to point out Dobson's own position on abortion--he opposes it across the board--but Steve beat me to it. Steve is right; viewed in that context, the numbers in this poll are much worse news for opponents of all legal abortion.

This spin technique applied to same-sex marriage is even funnier. Dobson claims 54 percent oppose it--but he counts the 24 percent who favor civil unions! Since hell will freeze over before Dobson endorses civil unions, this claim of having the majority on his side is particularly hilarious.

Posted by: shortstop on June 29, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Steve and no worries. It was pretty clear your weren't toying with the numbers (not least because you noted it was a "combined 75%"). In any event, Dobson clearly has taken the "lemonade from lemons" approach to statistical analysis to a whole new level!

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 29, 2007 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

These wingnuts are losing their edge. Why not just claim that the NYT is liberal and biased and dismiss the whole thing?
Such a tortured spin makes them look even more stupid and dishonest than usual.

Posted by: Ringo on June 29, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

So Dobson and those of like mind have to lie to bolster support for their views? Since when is this
news?

Posted by: AColtharp on June 29, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Such a tortured spin makes them look even more stupid and dishonest than usual."

A true talent, in its way.

Posted by: Kenji on June 29, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

dobson is either an idiot or he thinks his followers don't read.
Posted by: mudwall jackson on June 29, 2007 at 3:27 PM

Yes, and yes, and why would they?

Christian radio lost me because of Dobson. His was the "Christian" show that was bashing liberals right along with the worst of Limbaugh.

I complained to JOY FM Panama City FL about being a Christian liberal and how hurtful his shows were to those of us who worked hard to follow God (and still love trees and animals and voting rights for women, that sort of thing). The station backed him up to the point of making special announcements about supporting "Dr. and Author James Dobson". Guess they told me, and other sinning liberals like me. Who is God again?

He and Cal Thomas are worse than Limbaugh, because they are Christians belittling and degrading others under the banner of Jesus, well....it was the beginning of my falling away from the whole faux religiosity thing.

My favorite is how Dobson throws his "personal opinions" out across the media with disclaimers that he speaks only for himself. In a few Christian cirles that is called lying.

Posted by: Zit on June 29, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Wingnutters have been doing this forever. They always characterize anyone who thinks that abortion should be subject to regulation as being in agreement with their stance that abortion should be outlawed.

It's like saying that because someone agrees that food production and preparation in the US should be regulated that they are against eating.

Posted by: Disputo on June 29, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

all the trends are going away from conservatives..


51% view the Democratic Party favorably; only 36% look favorably on the GOP - CNN/Opinion Research 6/24/07


"Americans give the GOP their most negative assessment in the 2-decade history of the WSJ/NBC survey - 49% to 36% say the Democratic Party more closely shares their values and positions on the issues." - Wall Street Journal 6/14/07

Self-identification by registered voters. Democrats - 35%, Independents - 28%, GOP - 26% - Hotline/Diageo 5/23/07

that's gotta hurt...

Posted by: mr. irony on June 29, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Bring on Inkblot, puhleeze!

Posted by: optical weenie"

I fear Inkblot's on vacation with Kevin. You may have to wean yourself off catblog dependence. On the other hand, if you just depend on it as a signal to stop working, should be easy.

Posted by: David in NY on June 29, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Dobson is a genius. He shoulda been in the Bush cabinet.

Posted by: CT on June 29, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

I characterized it this way specifically because Dobson's position is one of a flat ban on legal abortion. In this context, 75% of young voters -- the ones he says "track conservative" -- hold a position that is diametrically opposed to his policy agenda.

Oh, please. Is Steve Benen's position that abortion should be more restricted than it currently is? I thought not. So, in that context, 62% of young voters -- the ones who Benen says don't "track conservative" -- hold a position that is diametrically opposed to Benen's policy agenda.

Really, Benen's post is no different than a mirror image of Dobson's post. Benen is a left-extremist and Dobson is a right-extremist. In both cases, the extremes are saying "see, the people in the middle are with us, not with them." But extremists like Benen and Dobson are both wrong. The people in the middle are with neither of you; they are in the middle.

Posted by: Al on June 29, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

114% of all dead people preferred the Republican Party over the Democrats, while 68% of Gay Evangelicals are in favor of allowing penguins to marry, and 98% of rabid dogs prefer Chinese Pet Food to American Pet Food.

Posted by: Python's Ghost on June 29, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Al, the problem is that Dobson can't live with any restrictions on abortions. I venture to say that Steve, and many others, can live with some (so long as women aren't forbidden to act to save their own health), since that's what Roe allows. So Dobson can't really claim those "middle" folks for his view, but Steve and others here, can.

Posted by: David in NY on June 29, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Right spin:

Sixty-two percent said abortion should be outlawed or restricted.

Left spin:

A combined 75% of voters under 30 want abortion rights to be legal.

Fact: 37% of the 17-29 category (which isn't "voters under 30") want abortion generally available, 38% want it available but under more restrictive terms than now, and 24% think it should not be permitted. Trying to lump the plurality in the center to sell a whopping majority on either the left or the right is spin.

Dobson's portrayal (though still spin) is actually slightly more reasonable on the abortion responses than Benen's: on that question the 17-29 year old group does tilt a hair more conservative than the "all adults" group, which has 39% preferring abortion be generally available, 37% favoring availability with more restrictions than currently, and only 21% wanting it prohibited.

Though, really, I think its far more interesting (and a much bigger sign of fundamental liberalism in that age group than the hair of variation on abortion is of conservatism) that young people in the poll are both much more supportive of gay marriage than the "all adults" group and also much more likely to see sexual orientation as a choice.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 29, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK
Wingnutters have been doing this forever. They always characterize anyone who thinks that abortion should be subject to regulation as being in agreement with their stance that abortion should be outlawed.

Since the options in this poll were generally available, more restricted than now, or not permitted, anything but the first category was endorsing a policy change from the status quo in the same direction as the Right wants, though perhaps of different magnitude.

Of course, not having an option for looser restrictions than now encourages the perception that the middle presented option rather than the status quo is the "moderate" option and probably produces some rightward bias in the responses.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 29, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Bearing false witness" - The optional commandment.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on June 29, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

"It illustrates that my generation realizes that they are survivors of Roe," she said. "Each of us born after 1973 could have been legally aborted by our parents."

i remember listening to the radio one night when we were eating dinner, and on the news was an item saying my mother's ob/gyn had been arrested for performing abortions.

my dad turned to me and said, "see? you were lucky."

your pal,
blake

Posted by: blake on June 29, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

This happens on a daily basis at the New York Times. Maybe Dobson should go work for the Grey Lady?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 29, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Not to be born prevails over all meaning uttered in words; by far the second best for life, once it has appeared, is to go as swiftly as possible whence it came." — Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus

Posted by: Happy Thought on June 29, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

On abortion: A combined 75% of voters under 30 want abortion rights to be legal.This is really a religious issue, not a conservative one.

We need to get back to American values, which means religious zealots don't force their religious values on others.

Let's not be so timid we can't say "Catholic."

Posted by: Luther on June 29, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

Steve - I'm delighted to see you putting this in the "bearing false witness" frame. Like Maynard Handley says, this does seem to be the "optional commandment" for evangelical Christian movers and shakers, but that fact is rarely pointed out. So kudos to you for doing so.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist (formerly RT) on June 29, 2007 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

The hard right lives in a fantasy world. Everyone is entitled to their opinion - but people are NOT entitled to their own set of facts.

As I have commented here before, the right-wing is on the losing end of a demographic trend wherein white males will become a minority and societal changes where gays and other formerly downtrodden groups will be widely accepted.

Conservatives are dinosaurs mired in the tar pits of history.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 29, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Is James Dobson insane? Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear...in the woods?

Posted by: The Oracle on June 30, 2007 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

"Each of us born after 1973 could have been legally aborted by our parents."

And each of us born after contraceptive were developed COULD have been not conceived.

And each of born before 1973 could have been aborted safely if illegally.

Unless your parents are too stupid to know how to use contraceptives, or too religious to use contraceptives (and "so sorry for you" in either case), each of "us" born after 1973 were clearly wanted children.

The "youth" of today are more narcissistic that the Boomers, by far. Due perhaps to "my child can do no wrong" which modern parents inflict on all the rest of us.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 30, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

It does look like young people are trending slightly more anti-abortion than adults. Its not to the degree that Dobson suggests, but its a little concerning to me nonetheless.

And this is at the same time they seem to be moving liberal in other areas. So it seems to be for abortion only. Why that would be I dont know, especially now with stem cell research in the news. I thought that would move people in a more pro-choice position. Maybe it still will.

Posted by: Jonesy on July 1, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

As a member of this age group, I think the reason that we trend slightly more (i.e. 2% points) conservative on abortion is more due to our generation taking for granted the legality of abortion and not really understanding the consequences of Roe possibly being overturned (women being forced to have unsafe, illegal abortions, etc.). Abortion has been legal for all of our lives and I don't think most of us realize that it could likely be overturned within the next few years, under a more conservative Supreme Court.

Posted by: Jennifer on July 2, 2007 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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