Pandemic Politics: How 2020 Impacted Americans' Social and Political Attitudes.

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Date: Summer 2021
From: Skeptic (Altadena, CA)(Vol. 26, Issue 3)
Publisher: Skeptics Society & Skeptic Magazine
Document Type: Article
Length: 3,807 words
Lexile Measure: 1480L

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IN MID-2020, THE SKEPTICS SOCIETY LAUNCHED THE Skeptic Research Center (1) (SRC)--a collaboration between the Skeptics Society and qualified researchers. The SRC was created to better understand what misconceptions most divide our society, and to empower the public with the knowledge necessary to think critically about current events. In the December 2020 issue of SKEPTIC, we reviewed the reports released from our first collaboration. In this article, we will review the findings from our second collaboration.

The Skeptic Research Center collaborated again with the Worldview Foundations Research Team, (2) composed of sociologist Kevin McCaffree, psychologist Anondah Saide, and research assistant Marshall McCready. For this second collaboration, called the Civil Unrest and Presidential Election Study (CUPES), the team examined Americans' social and political attitudes in light of the substantial social and economic unrest of Summer 2020. CUPES investigated how events such as the presidential election, the George Floyd protests, and the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the attitudes of fourteen hundred Americans regarding a variety of topics.

Our findings were released across nine reports published by the SRC between November 2020 and March 2021. The reports, as well as detailed supplementary statistical information, are freely accessible on the Skeptic Research Center website. The titles of these reports reflect the study's key topics:

* Did Political Disunity Change in 2020? (#1)

* Intolerance Is Lower Than You Might Think (#2)

* Inequality and the Economy: Pandemic Tradeoffs (#3)

* Trust in Institutions (#4)

* Censorship Attitudes and Voting Preferences (#5)

* Outside of Politics, What Else Predicts Attitudes Towards Censorship? (#6)

* How Informed are Americans about Race and Policing? (#7)

* Why Are People Misinformed About Fatal Police Shootings? (#8)

* Has Time Spent with Family and Friends Declined? (#9)

Below, we will discuss six central themes we identified across our findings. We'll refrain from commenting about the potential implications of what we found because we elicited the interpretations of these findings from SKEPTIC readers such as yourself. These reader responses can be found at the end of this review.

Theme 1: Intra-Party Unity

In a study we conducted in 2019, we found greater political disunity among Democrats than Republicans. (3) In response to the question, "If you had to choose, which political group do you think is most different to your own political views, currently?" Democrats were statistically as likely to select the Democratic Party as they were to pick the Republican Party. However, in our follow-up study, we found that this in-group bickering amongst Democrats had begun to reverse. Between 2019 and 2020, it seems that the Republican Party became less unified, while Democrats became more unified. (4) For example, from 2019 to 2020 there was a 5 percent increase in Republicans choosing their own party as being opposed to their political views, along with a 11 percent drop in Republicans choosing Democrats (see Figure 1). In contrast, the percentage of Democrats who reported greater political disagreement with their own party dropped about 10 percentage points during the same period.

Theme 2: Gender and Politics

Men and women differed systematically...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A681541785