John Calhoun, call your office

Paul Danish

According to a recent poll, taken over the Fourth of July holiday of all times, nearly four out of 10 likely voters are so fed up with the state of the union that they’re cool with the idea of leaving it.

On the flip side, the same poll found nearly one-third of likely voters are cool with using the military to crush anyone who tries it.

The survey, which was done by John Zogby Strategies, asked 1,001 likely voters the following question:

Which of the following is closer to your view?

Statement A: If a majority of residents within a given state prefer to have the final say over their destiny without the control of Washington D.C., then let them have it it is their right.

Statement B: If residents within a given state were to take such a drastic measure and secede from the United States, the Federal Government would be justified sending in the military to prevent secession from taking place.

Nearly four in 10 (39 percent) of those surveyed agreed with Statement A. Nearly one-third (32 percent) agreed with Statement B. Twenty-nine percent were undecided. In other words, according to pollster Jeremy Zogby, a plurality of Americans, “agree with a state’s right to make a clean break from the Federal Government and go their own way.”

Although the word “secede” does not explicitly appear in Statement A, as it does in Statement B, Zogby equates an affirmative response to Statement A with support for secession.

The poll found a greater percentage of Democrats (42 percent) and unaffiliated voters (41 percent) supported secession than did Republicans (35 percent).

It also found that nearly half of blacks (47 percent) supported secession, compared with 38 percent of whites and 34 percent of Hispanics.

By region, the part of the country most supportive of secession was the Central/Great Lakes region with 41 percent support, closely followed by the South and the West, both with 40 percent support. Support for secession in the Northeast was 35 percent.

Last year, Zogby Strategies asked the same question to 800 likely voters over the Labor Day weekend. Overall, an identical 39 percent agreed with Statement A in both the 2018 and 2017 polls, but there were some significant changes in the demographics of the 2018 survey.

The two most striking changes were plunging support for secession among Hispanics and soaring support for it in the heartland.

Among Hispanics, support for secession dropped to 34 percent from 51 percent, a 17 percentage point decline. By contrast there was no change in support among whites, for whom it was 38 percent in both 2017 and 2018, and a comparatively small rise in support among blacks (from 43 percent to 47 percent).

By region, support for secession shot up in the Central/Great Lakes region from 25 percent in 2017 to 41 percent in 2018, a 16 percentage point spike.

In contrast, support for secession dropped by 8 percentage points in the South (from 48 percent to 40 percent) and in the Northeast (from 43 percent to 35 percent). In the West it declined from 43 percent to 40 percent.

By party, support for secession was little changed: It ticked up a percentage point among Democrats (to 42 percent) and two percentage points among unaffiliated voters (to 41 percent), and dropped three percentage points among Republicans (to 35 percent).

What should we make of this?

The fact that more Democrats than Republicans favor secession may be a function of Trump Derangement Syndrome, and Democrats’ skin-crawling realization that Trump and more importantly, his supporters may not be going away any time soon. If Trump can’t be dumped, maybe Ds want a way to flee the country without moving to Canada or Tierra Del Fuego.

Among Hispanics, the 17 percentage point drop in those who supported Statement A was nearly matched by a 15 percentage point rise in the number of Hispanics answering “not sure,” rather than by any significant shift among Hispanics to Statement B. Just guessing — this might indicate an unwillingness to answer the question candidly in the present atmosphere rather than a major shift in opinion. If so, then support for secession may be even larger than the poll indicates.

The spike in support for secession in the Central/Great Lakes region (aka “the heartland” and “flyover country” in the coastal enclaves) may reflect a spike in resentment among the area’s deplorables over the coastals’ contempt for their values and economic pain. Question: If that is the root cause, did Russian attempts to use social media to polarize the country play a role in catalyzing that resentment? If the answer is yes, Putin may be doing kazotsky kicks around the Kremlin.

The more interesting results from the survey may be the ones Zogby didn’t share — the demographic breakdown of the Statement B cohort: Which demographic groups are most supportive of crushing a secession attempt by military force?

Are nanny-statist Democrats or libertarian Republicans more in favor of fighting to preserve the country? Given their military traditions, is the most support for Statement B in the South? Are blacks less willing than whites to use force to keep the country together than Whites, or vice versa?

And so on.

So is there anything here that we should be concerned about?

Oh heavens no. Why would anyone be alarmed just because nearly 40 percent of the American people are kind of insouciant about the possibility of the country disintegrating, and only about one-third of Americans think it’s worth fighting to keep it together? Absolutely nothing, nothing, do you hear, to worry about here.

P.S.: John Calhoun, call your office.

This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.

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