Issues & Insights

I&I/TIPP Poll: Nation Is Sharply Split On ‘Woke’

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Editor’s note: Issues & Insights gratefully acknowledges its collaboration with tippinsights on the simultaneous and exclusive release of this story.

Everywhere you turn in the media these days, the term “woke” is invoked as a kind of new ideal for “progressive” changes sought by the left in America. But in the latest I&I/TIPP Poll, nearly a third of those responded negatively to the woke trend, including a surprisingly large number of minority and Democratic respondents.

The I&I/TIPP poll was conducted by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence online from June 30 through July 2, and includes responses from 1,424 adults, for a margin of error of +/- 2.8 points. The poll is part of a new ongoing collaboration between Issues & Insights and TIPP to gauge public opinion on key issues of current interest to all Americans.

The poll asked those responding to the question “what does the term ‘woke’ mean to you,” followed by 10 possible suggested responses. The answers were then grouped into “negative,” that is those having a more skeptical take on “wokeism,” and “Progressive,” or those who see the social phenomenon largely as portrayed by its political proponents.

The answers gathered suggested that the hard-sell of woke ideology now pervasive in the nation’s schools, businesses, government, and private institutions has come up short. Respondents could give more than one answer.

A look at the “negatives” shows a schism among average Americans on the woke issue.

A full 31% answered negatively, which includes one or more of the following responses: Calling “woke” “an anti-American ideology,” “a threat to national security,” or “a socialist ideology.”

Meanwhile, 37% characterized “woke” in somewhat more positive terms, calling it a “progressive stance toward equality (solely for people of color),” or “an all-encompassing progressive stance (LGBTQ, BLM, etc.),” or “A LGBTQ progressive stance (solely).”

In general, those sharing the progressive view made up a higher share of all demographic groups, with two exceptions: Those 65 and older (29% negative, 26% progressive) and Republicans (39% negative, but 33% progressive).

But large numbers of people answering also were not so sure, with 20% saying it was just a “current trending term,” such as “hip,” 13% answering “none of the above” to the possible responses, and fully 25% saying “not sure” about the whole “woke” concept.

Breakdowns were as expected, with Democrats generally much more favorably progressive in their responses than Republicans, but there were surprises, especially within the negative responses.

As one would guess, Republicans (39%) were more negative than Democrats (just 27%), with Independents (31%) somewhere in between. But that still means more than a quarter of Democrats, the party of woke, appear to have serious doubts about the phenomenon.

Moreover, sharp splits emerge by age, race, sex and income, among other demographic variables.

Regarding age groups, for instance, the highest share of negative responses came surprisingly among those 25-44 in age, at 38%. Those 18-24 (25% negative), 45-64 (27% negative), and 65+ (29% negative) were well below the 25-44 folks.

Why the big difference? Could it be that those from 25 to 44 are in mid-career and thus, perhaps, more likely to experience the negative elements of woke ideology? That certainly seems a plausible answer.

Perhaps shockingly, blacks and Hispanics, taken together, had a higher negative response (33%) than whites (30%), but they also had a higher positive response, a sign that feelings about wokeism are stronger in both directions with minorities than with whites.

Responses by income group were likewise intriguing. Those with incomes over $75,000 a year, had the highest negative rating of any group for woke: 46%. But they also had the biggest buy-in on the progressive definitions of woke: 53%.

By sex, males gave 38% negative responses; females, just 24%, another area where gender differences mean political differences, too.

If anything, the overall data suggest a nation not at ease with this new ideology, which has been aggressively adopted by Americas elites. Headlines from recent days suggest just how far the whole woke phenomenon has penetrated American society, and how divisive it’s become:

The new I&I/TIPP data on how Americans view wokeism underscore the strong differences of opinion that have led to a politically polarized electorate and some of the most bitter debate in decades.

I&I/TIPP look forward to providing more data in the coming weeks on topics of vital interest to all Americans. TIPP, as we’ve noted, has the distinction of being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections. Next week, we look at trust in the media.

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Terry Jones

Terry Jones was part of Investor's Business Daily from its inception in 1983, working in a variety of posts, including reporter, economics correspondent, National Issues editor and economics editor. Most recently, from 1996 to 2019, he served as associate editor of the newspaper and deputy editor and editor of IBD's Issues & Insights. His many media appearances include spots on the Larry Kudlow, Bill O’Reilly, Dennis Miller, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Glenn Beck shows. He also served as Free Markets columnist for Townhall Magazine, and as a weekly guest on PJTV’s The Front Page. He holds both bachelor's and master's degrees from UCLA, and is an Abraham Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute

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  • The tenacious belief on the left that man is perfectible and woke politicians have the wherewithal to devise the new version, a version better than the Garden of Eden model, is a complete fantasy, but one which still has legs. Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao and others came a cropper while searching for perfection for their enslaved peoples, and their quasi-autocratic successors, those on the left presently and the ones who Lenin described as ‘useful idiots’, cannot learn the lessons of history, blinded as they are by the hubris of elite thinking.

    Many Americans dangling from the woke tree are steadfast for anything liberals proclaim. Solidarity with those who sneer and jeer, mock, revile and curse conservative thought is part of the card-carrying progressive peloton they have joined, so hungry are they for simple answers to what are complicated issues. Facts and statistical analysis mean almost nothing in the discussion, and erroneous figures and suppositions decorate the tree and fortify the false impression that if only iniquitous conservative, libertarian and unaffiliated voters would mute and neuter themselves, our society would transform into a multicolored slice of nirvana.This is fiction and it litters our airwaves while deceiving the unwary. It also allows those who know better to sidestep the difficult discussion and slip into the comfort of groupthink. The absence of self-reflection means the woke confessional will remain silent.

    If President Joe Biden’s woke plans to refashion America from a rollicking country of innovation, ingenuity and individualism into a gray sameness bear fruit, we might as well change the national anthem to The Internationale.

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