‘Traditional values’ take a hit in the polls

HIGH AND LOW | Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, right, had the highest favorability ratings of possible Republican presidential candidates in a recent CNN poll. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, left, had the highest ‘unfavorability’ rating.

Percentage of people saying government should ‘promote traditional values’ drops below 50 percent for the 1st time

LISA KEEN | Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

“Traditional values” didn’t do too well in the latest CNN poll of American adults.

For the first time in the 18 years since the question was first asked, the percentage of adults thinking that the government should “promote traditional values” has dropped below 50 percent.

Of the 1,015 adults surveyed between June 3 and 7, 46 percent said the government should promote traditional values, but 50 percent said government should “not favor any set of values.” Four percent had no opinion.

The survey results, which were released Sunday, June 12, had a margin of error of plus or minus three points.

Just last year, 53 percent of respondents said government should promote “traditional values” and, according to CNN, past polls have shown support as high as 59 percent (in October 2001 and January 1996).

But since the question was first asked, in 1993, responses have fluctuated dramatically.

In 2001, for instance, the question was asked in September and again in October. In September 2001, 53 percent said government should promote “traditional values”; in October, 59 percent said so.

The previous low point for traditional values came in September 2005, when only 50 percent of adults said government should promote them.

CNN did not explain what it meant by “traditional values,” but in political discourse, the phrase has emerged as code for “anti-gay.”

The right-wing Traditional Values Coalition defines traditional values as including the view that homosexuality is an abomination, but also includes views that are anti-abortion, pro-death penalty and pro-religion.

Some polls have asked questions concerning “traditional marriages,” usually seeking respondents’ views on allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Two years ago, Fox News asked, “Do you think straight people in your community who have traditional religious values are tolerant of gays and lesbians and their beliefs?”

Sixty-seven percent said they think straight people in their communities are “very tolerant” or “somewhat tolerant.”

CNN’s question was asked this year along with questions concerning Republican candidates for president, in a preview of CNN’s debate Monday night with seven GOP contenders.

CNN asked survey participants to express their opinions on 10 potential candidates. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has suggested he might run, had the highest favorability ranking.

Fifty-five percent of adults surveyed said they had a favorable opinion of Giuliani. He was followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 39 percent, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas with 34 percent.

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin earned the highest “unfavorability” rating: 52 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable opinion of the former Alaska governor.

Palin was followed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, of whom 44 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable opinion.

Interestingly, the respondents also identified Palin as the Republican who represents values of Republicans.

The Democratic Party fared better than the Republican Party in the poll. While 55 percent of those surveyed said they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party; only 49 percent had a favorable view of the GOP.

© 2011 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  John Wright

Hate group count tops 1,000

Graphic from Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that for the the first time the number of hate groups operating in the U.S. tops 1,000.

For the first time last year, SPLC included organizations like the National Organization for Marriage as anti-LGBT hate groups that promote violence.

SPLC attributes the increase to three factors:

resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the lagging economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at minorities and the government.

SPLC, based in Montgomery, Ala., has been tracking hate groups since the 1980s. The number of groups has increased during Democratic as well as Republican administrations. Every year since 2000 has seen an increase.

The most violent groups are so-called “patriot” groups that have killed eight law-enforcement officers since President Barack Obama took office.

Of the total, Texas has 59 hate groups listed, second only to California’s 68 hate groups. In Texas, the Bethesda Christian Institute in San Antonio is the only anti-gay hate group listed. Most of the Texas groups are Nazi or KKK. Dallas is home to the Confederate Hammerskins, a racist skinhead group. Fort Worth has a chapter of the Klan and a Nation of Islam group. Richardson and Irving are home to white nationalist organizations.

Only one anti-immigrant hate group is listed in Texas — the Border Guardians in Livingston, about 75 miles northeast of Houston and several hundred miles from the border.

Among the anti-gay hate groups are the Family Research Institute in Colorado Springs, the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss., and the Traditional Values Coalition in Anaheim, Calif.

The state with the fewest hate groups is first-in-the-nation-with-civil-unions Vermont, with just two competing chapters of the Klan.

UPDATE and CORRECTION: We received a note from Focus on the Family, which I had listed with the other groups. They are not and never were one of the hate groups.

Liberty Counsel, Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, Concerned Women for America, Coral Ridge Ministries and National Organization for Marriage are groups whose anti-gay activities SPLC looked into but whose homophobia did not rise to the level of hate group.

Abiding Truth Ministries, American Family Association, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, American Vision, Chalcedon Foundation, Dove World Outreach Center, Faithful Word Baptist Church, Family Research Council, Family Research Institute, Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment, Illinois Family Institute, MassResistance and Traditional Values Coalition are listed as hate groups.

—  David Taffet