Thursday, April 07, 2005

Who are the Deaniacs?

Yesterday, the Pew Research Center released the results of an absolutely fascinating survey of Dean activists. I haven't read the entire report yet, but the executive summary includes a few interesting tidbits. For example, Dean activists aren't as young as many assumed. While 18% are under 30 and another 26% are 30-44, 42% are 45-64. As expected, however, they are "far wealthier, better educated, more secular and much less ethnically diverse than other Democrats," according to the report. They are also far more liberal.

And, yet, there is less support for bringing the troops home from Iraq among Dean activists than among Democrats generally (52% to 64%, respectively); this, despite the fact that 99% (yes 99%!) of Deaniacs believe that invading Iraq was the wrong decision, compared to 68% of all Democrats who believe the war was wrong. (I think explanation for this is that Dean activists are better informed than Democrats generally and, thus, are more likely to recognize the consequences of such a move.)

This does not, however, mean that the Dean wing of the Democratic Party is pacifist. Only 21% of Dean activists think preemptive force is never justified; similarly, 20% of all Democrats agree. Nevertheless, 60% of Dean activists believe such force is rarely justified (compared to 32% of all Dems); just 19% of the former think it is often or sometimes justified, while 44% of all Democrats think that.

One last nugget - when Dean activists' foreign policy views are broken down by age group, it's the youngest Deaniacs who favor keeping troops in Iraq; 61% of those under 30 take that position, while only 34% of those over 50 agree. Why? As the Pew report reminds us, the latter group is comprised of 1960s activists.

I'm off to read the report in detail - this faction may dominate the party for years to come and it's worth understanding where they're coming from.


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