The Times They Are A-Changin’ – NBC/WSJ Social Trends

As the last several decades have brought a number of changes in American society, a majority of Americans say they feel comfortable with these changes. The latest NBC/WSJ poll conducted in March asked this question: “Over the past few years there has been a debate about changes in American society and the country becoming more diverse and tolerant of different lifestyles, gender roles, languages, cultures and experiences. Which of the following statements comes closer to your point of view about these changes:”

The March 2018 numbers are virtually unchanged from when this question was asked in August of 2017.

What’s remarkable about this data is that the majority holds across many important subgroups – White, African American, Latino, Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers. However, non-white adults are more comfortable than white adults (59% comfortable/20% uneasy vs 52% comfortable/27% uneasy). And, unease does rise among older generations; among Millennials the numbers are 64% comfortable/16% uneasy, among Generation X 49% comfortable/27% uneasy, and among Boomers+ 49% comfortable 31% uneasy.

The one place where we do see a real divide is by party and ideology, with majorities of Independents, Democrats, moderates and liberals saying they are comfortable with the changes, while Republicans and conservatives say they are uneasy.

Among Republicans, those who said they consider themselves more Trump supporters than Republican party supporters are much less comfortable with these changes (14% comfortable/55% uneasy) than those who consider themselves more Republican party supporters (36% comfortable/32% uneasy).

However, there is some movement among Republicans and conservatives on support for key social issues that have been championed by Democrats and liberals.

For example, attitudes towards gay marriage are shifting among the population as a whole and among Republicans. In a June 2017 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center 62% of Americans said gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry; 2010 was the last time more Americans opposed same sex marriage (48%) than favored it (42%). For the first time in the 2017 poll, Republicans were basically split on this question, with 47% in favor and 48% in opposition. In 2013, 33% were in favor and 61% opposed. Unsurprisingly, the shift is coming from younger Republicans, with 60% of Millennial Republicans in favor of same-sex marriage compared to 42% of Boomers and 29% of the Silent Generation.

Polling for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal is conducted by Republican pollster Bill McInturff and Democratic pollster Fred Yang. This analysis is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of NBC, The Wall Street Journal, or Hart Research Associates.

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