National UMass Amherst Poll Surveys Americans’ Views on Race, Antisemitism and the ‘Great Replacement Theory’
Topline results and crosstabs for the poll can be found at www.umass.edu/poll
Americans continue to have mixed views on race and racial issues, a new national University of Massachusetts Amherst Poll conducted Jan. 5-9 has found.
“As the nation celebrates the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and reflects on the progress made on the issue of race, there is evidence that America has moved closer to the pinnacle of King’s mountaintop but that there is still much hard work ahead if the nation wants to achieve a status as a true colorblind nation,” says Tatishe Nteta, provost professor of political science at UMass Amherst and director of the poll.
“Majorities of Americans recognize the existence of white privilege (53%) and express anger that racism still exists (67%), while 52% of Americans disagree that racial problems are rare and isolated,” Nteta explains. “However, our poll finds a surprising number of Americans still subscribing to key tenets of the Great Replacement theory and antisemitism, and that Americans are still reluctant to financially atone for the nation’s Original Sin of slavery as large majorities oppose reparations. Four centuries after the first African American arrived in the United States, the issue of race still divides the country.”
Reparations to the Descendants of Slaves
“In recent years, a number of states, cities and private universities across the nation have begun to explore their roles in the institution of slavery with some concluding that the African American descendants of slaves are indeed owed some form of financial reparations,” Nteta explains. “While the movement for reparations has grown at the local, state, and private levels, there has been little support by the federal government on the issue of reparations. The consistent lack of public support for reparations likely accounts for the lack of legislative or presidential leadership on reparations as six in 10 Americans express opposition to a federal program of reparations and four in 10 Americans conclude that this is a policy that the federal government ‘definitely should not pursue.’ Given the widespread public opposition to reparations, a Republican controlled House of Representatives, and a slim Democratic majority in the Senate, a federal reparations program – one which would finally provide the descendants of slaves with the long-promised equivalent of 40 acres and a mule – looks to be dead in the water.”
Support for Reparations to Descendants of Slaves
Age 18-29 Support
Age 30-54 Support
Age 55+ Support
“Younger Americans appear much more supportive of providing some cash reparations,” says Raymond La Raja, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and co-director of the poll. “Fifty-seven percent of people 18-29 years-old support reparations, compared to 42% among 30-54-year-olds and just 22% among those over 55. The top reasons they offer is that the U.S. ‘never followed through on a promise to compensate’ (28%) and that ‘slavery is responsible for inequality’ (26%). Beyond youthful idealism, there is an empathetic quality to these responses. I think the younger generation, with its struggles after the financial crisis, college costs, and the pandemic is acutely aware of how past events can inextricably hold people back despite how hard they work.
“With estimates of a federal reparations policy directed at the descendants of slaves hovering around $12 trillion with $800,000 being directed at eligible African American households, most would believe that the public would express strong opposition to the policy based on the cost of the program,” Nteta says. “Somewhat surprisingly, only a small number of Americans (6%) point to the expense of the policy when given an opportunity to explain their opposition. A more popular explanation of opposition is the belief that the largely African American descendants of slaves do not deserve financial reparations. If the movement for reparations is to succeed, they will need to make a stronger case for why the nation needs to financially atone for the institution of slavery over 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation.”
“Opposition to reparations appears to be based in the perspective that reparations are a racial zero-sum policy, with African Americans winning at the expense of other racial groups,” says Jesse Rhodes, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and co-director of the poll. “Indeed, while whites are strongly opposed to reparations, so are strong majorities of Latinos and Asian Americans. This is a major challenge for supporters of reparations – so long as non-African Americans perceive the policy this way, it will be hard to garner broad support for it. Supporters of reparations need to do more to explain how, while the policy immediately targets descendants of enslaved people with benefits, it will likely have broader positive effects for society, as well.”
“However, the fact that more than a third (36%) of Americans support providing reparations for descendants of enslaved people is impressive,” Rhodes notes. “While federal reparations are probably unlikely for the foreseeable future, the significant support for reparations makes it more likely that state and local reparations programs will continue to spread and grow, particularly in progressive coastal states. It’s quite possible that we will see the gradual spread of reparations programs. Although inadequate from the perspective of social justice, this development reflects how policy often gets made in our federal system, particularly when our national politics are so polarized.”
“In recent weeks, there have been a number of high-profile expressions of antisemitic viewpoints, most notably by Ye – the artist formerly known as Kanye West – and the NBA basketball player Kyrie Irving,” Nteta says. “This follows years of increases in antisemitic incidents that included vandalism, harassment and assaults in both blue and red states. While many thought that antisemitism was a thing of the past, our polling shows that a surprising number of Americans – on average about 2 in 10 – still hold negative and stereotypic views of Jewish Americans.”
Younger respondents of the survey – those age 18-29 – expressed higher levels of antisemitic beliefs than older respondents, while African Americans expressed more antisemitic sentiments than white, Latino and Asian respondents.
Antisemitic Views Among Americans Age 18-29
Agree that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them during the Holocaust”
Agree that “Jews have too much power in the business world”
Agree that “Jews think they are better than other people”
“Much of the optimism regarding the nation’s steady march toward racial equality has focused attention on the relatively progressive racial views that young people hold and our polling finds that young people are among the strongest proponents of positive racial attitudes,” Nteta says. “However, this progressive inclination on race may not extend to attitudes toward Jewish Americans as a surprising number of young Americans support antisemitic views associated with the nation’s long history of stereotyping Jewish Americans. More specifically, about a quarter of young people (24%) believe that Jews talk too much about the Holocaust, that Jews have too much power in business (26%), and that Jews think they are better than other people (26%).”
“African Americans and Jewish Americans have a long and largely harmonious and supportive relationship in the U.S.,” he continues. “African Americans fought in World War II against the Nazis, Jewish Americans protested alongside African Americans in the Civil Rights Movement and in recent decades the groups have built political coalitions that have resulted in the election of both African American and Jewish American candidates. However, the relationship between these two groups has also been marked by a number of contentious interactions with Jewish Americans expressing anti-black views and African Americans subscribing to antisemitic viewpoints. In the wake of the antisemitic comments made by Ye and Kyrie Irving, many wondered whether these views were popular in the African American community, and our polling finds antisemitic viewpoints are espoused by three in 10 African American respondents on average. While a majority of African Americans do oppose these viewpoints, it is worth noting that blacks emerge as one of the demographic and political groups most likely to subscribe to these tropes.”
Great Replacement Theory
“While previously on the fringes of public opinion, a number of prominent conservative media personalities such as Tucker Carlson and elected officials such as Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene have increasingly espoused key tenets of this theory,” Nteta says. “Some have asked how popular are these views among the general public? Our results indicate that these views have moved from the fringe to the mainstream. On average, about three in 10 Americans support parts of this theory and, unsurprisingly, the theory is most popular among Republicans and conservatives with majorities of these groups believing that the growing number of immigrants in the U.S. will damage U.S. culture and identity (55% of Republicans and 59% of conservatives) and that elected officials are attempting to replace American voters with new immigrants (68% of Republicans and 71% of conservatives).”
“Overall, more than 40% of Americans endorse the belief that politicians want to increase immigration in order to bring in obedient people who will vote for them,” Rhodes says. “These beliefs are dangerous and can lead to intimidation and violence against immigrants and people of color.”
“A broad conclusion of our findings,” Rhodes summarizes, “is that a significant fraction of Americans – particularly native-born whites – are feeling very anxious and uncertain about demographic and political change in the United States. Some are worried about what they view as cultural change, while others are fearful that increased racial, ethnic and cultural diversity will lead to a reduction in their political power. It is a hard truth that these anxieties make some Americans more susceptible to racism, xenophobia and antisemitism. Our poll results point to the need for political leaders to both support vulnerable communities of color and immigrants, and to help those fearful about demographic change understand how diversity strengthens the country and makes life better for everyone.”
This University of Massachusetts Amherst Poll of 1,000 respondents nationwide was conducted by YouGov Jan. 5-9. YouGov interviewed 1,051 total respondents who were then matched down to a sample of 1,000 to produce the final dataset. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, race and education. The sampling frame is a politically representative “modeled frame” of U.S. adults, based upon the American Community Survey (ACS) public use microdata file, public voter file records, the 2020 Current Population Survey (CPS) Voting and Registration supplements, the 2020 National Election Pool (NEP) exit poll and the 2020 CES surveys, including demographics and 2020 presidential vote.
The matched cases were weighted to the sampling frame using propensity scores. The matched cases and the frame were combined and a logistic regression was estimated for inclusion in the frame. The propensity score function included age, gender, race/ethnicity, years of education and region. The propensity scores were grouped into deciles of the estimated propensity score in the frame and post-stratified according to these deciles.
The weights were then post-stratified on 2020 presidential vote choice, and then post-stratified on the variables of gender, age (4-categories), race (4-categories) and education (4-categories) to produce the final weight.
The margin of error within this poll is 3.55%.
Topline results and crosstabs for the poll can be found at www.umass.edu/poll