For immediate release Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Dan Cassino 973.896.7032 Krista Jenkins 973.443.8390
Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey, December 10, 2019 – Although record numbers of women are competing for the Democratic nomination for president, their experiences have led some to complain that sexism is thriving in American politics. The most recent survey from the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll shows that while most of the Garden State rejects sexist beliefs about women, those beliefs are closely tied to views of President Donald Trump and important social issues.
To measure the extent to which Garden State residents endorse sexist beliefs, the survey asked respondents to agree or disagree with statements like “most women fail to fully appreciate all that men do for them,” and “women seek to gain power by getting control over men.” The same statements were used to construct a scale that measured sexist beliefs, with scores ranging from 0 to 12. The overall average among New Jersey adults was 4.7.
Overall, a majority of Garden State adults say that they disagree with all but one statement, with 63 percent who disagree with the statement “Most women interpret innocent remarks or actions as being sexist,” 67 percent who disagree with the statement “Most women fail to appreciate fully all that men do for them,” 71 percent who disagree with the statement “Women seek to gain power by getting control over men,” and 59 percent disagree that “Women are too easily offended.” Opinion is divided over whether women doubt men’s commitment to equality (49% agree; 51% disagree).
“Sexism isn’t dead, but at least most people in New Jersey reject this sort of antiquated thinking about gender and women’s tendency to scheme and exploit men,” said Dan Cassino, Professor of Politics and Government and an analyst with the poll.
Some notable differences emerge. In general, the older are more likely to hold attitudes that are consistent with sexism. For example, close to seven-in-ten of those aged 18-34 (68%) and 35-54 (65%) disagree with the statement “Most women interpret innocent remarks or actions as being sexist.” However, the numbers are significantly smaller among those 55 and older (57%). A similar pattern emerges for the statement “Women seek to gain power by getting control over men.” Although a majority of those 55 and older reject this statement (65%), numbers are higher among those 18-34 and 35-54 (74% among both groups.) On the sexism scale, respondents 55+ score a 5.2, as compared with a 4.4 for those 18-34 and 4.5 for those 35-54.
Bigger differences can be seen between Democrats and Republicans. Overall, Democrats are less likely to endorse sexist views than Republicans. Barely a quarter (28%) of Democrats believe that “Women are too easily offended,” whereas 64 percent of Republicans hold those beliefs. Twenty-five percent of Democrats agree that “Most women fail to appreciate fully that all men do for them,” while almost twice that number (45%) of Republicans believe the same. On the sexism scale, Democrats score a 3.9 with Republicans scoring a 5.9. Independents fall somewhere in the middle with a score of 4.8.
Other groups to show differences include whites versus non-whites and across varying educational levels. In general, non-white respondents are significantly less likely than white adults to endorse sexist beliefs, and education also appears to be related with a college degree a dividing line between those who more decisively reject sexist attitudes. New Jersey adults with a high school degree or less achieve a score of 5.3 on the sexism scale, and those with some college score a 5.1 However, college graduates score a full point less at 4.0.
The same survey also finds a clear relationship between sexism, President Trump, and attitudes toward important social issues.
In general, those who reject sexist claims are significantly more likely to support the president’s impeachment in the House of Representatives than are those who endorse sexist claims. For example, 70 percent of those who disagree with the statement “Women are too easily offended” support presidential impeachment, whereas only 42 percent of those who agree with the same statement approve of a House impeachment.
Another way of looking at this is to compare how respondents resonate with the President when grouped by their score on the sexism scale. Respondents were divided into three groups, based on their scores on the sexism scale. Respondents with scores of 3 or below (27 percent) were placed in the lowest category, scores of 4, 5 or 6 (34 percent) in the middle category, and scores of 7 or above in the highest category (39 percent).
These categories show the strong relationship between sexism and political views, including those for President Trump. For instance, there’s a strong relationship between sexism and approval of President Trump. Overall, 34 percent of New Jersey voters approve of the job Trump is doing as President, but that includes just 19 percent of those in the lowest third of sexism scores, compared with 33 percent in the middle third, and 45 percent approval in the highest third of sexism scores.
The relationship between sexism and views of Trump goes beyond approval ratings. Fifty percent of New Jersey voters support the impeachment of the President (when asked in October), but that figure is 66 percent among those with low sexism scores, and 40 percent among those with high scores on the scale.
“Views about gender and sexism have become almost inextricable from politics,” said Cassino. “As a result, people who endorse sexist views are much more likely to support the President.”
The willingness to agree with sexist beliefs is also closely related to attitudes towards abortion rights and gun control. Although a clear majority of Garden State adults support abortion rights (74%), there are differences across those scoring low, medium, and high on the sexism scale. Half (52%) of respondents in the lowest third of sexism say that abortion should always be legal, with only 3 percent saying that it should always be illegal. In contrast, only 22 percent of respondents with sexism scores in the highest third say that abortion should always be legal, and 10 percent say that it should always be illegal.
New Jersey voters with higher sexism scores are much more likely to oppose gun control measures than those with lower sexism scores. Overall, 71 percent of New Jersey voters support a nationwide ban on assault weapons: that figure includes 76 percent of those with low sexism scores, but just 54 percent of those with high sexism scores. In the same vein, 78 percent of respondents with low sexism scores support a ban on clips holding more than 10 rounds, compared with 55 percent of those with high sexism scores.
“Guns have traditionally been a way for men to assert their role as protector,” said Cassino. “So it’s no surprise that men who see men and women as having very different roles in society are more likely to oppose measures to limit guns.”
The survey was conducted by live callers on both landlines and cellular phones between September 26 through October 2, 2019, with a scientifically selected random sample of 801 New Jersey adults, 18 or older. Persons without a telephone could not be included in the random selection process. Respondents within a household are selected by asking randomly for the youngest adult currently available. The interview was conducted in English and included 253 adults reached on a landline phone and 548 adults reached on a cell phone, all acquired through random digit dialing.
The data were weighted to be representative of the non-institutionalized adult population of New Jersey. The weighting balanced sample demographics to target population parameters. The sample is balanced to match parameters for sex, age, education, race/ethnicity, region and phone use. The sex, age, education, race/ethnicity and region parameters were derived from 2017 American Community Survey PUMS data. The phone use parameter was derived from estimates provided by the National Health Interview Survey Early Release Program.
Weighting was done in two stages. The first stage of weighting corrected for different probabilities of selection associated with the number of adults in each household and each respondent’s telephone usage patterns. This adjustment also accounts for the overlapping landline and cell sample frames and the relative sizes of each frame and each sample. This first stage weight was applied to the entire sample which included all adults.
The second stage of the weighting balanced sample demographics to match target population benchmarks. This weighting was accomplished using SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis ensures that the demographic characteristics of the sample closely approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population.
Post-data collection statistical adjustments require analysis procedures that reflect departures from simple random sampling. We calculate the effects of these design features so that an appropriate adjustment can be incorporated into tests of statistical significance when using these data. The so-called "design effect" or deff represents the loss in statistical efficiency that results from a disproportionate sample design and systematic non-response. The total sample design effect for this study is 1.27.
All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. Sampling error should be adjusted to recognize the effect of weighting the data to better match the population. In this poll, the simple sampling error for 801 New Jersey adults is +/-3.9 percentage points (including the design effect) at a 95 percent confidence interval. Thus, if 50 percent of New Jersey adults in this sample favor a particular position, we would be 95 percent sure that the true figure is between 46.1 and 53.9 percent (50 +/- 3.9) if all New Jersey adults had been interviewed, rather than just a sample.
Sampling error does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, or context effects.
This telephone survey was fielded by Braun Research, Inc. with sample from Dynata.
The sample was purchased from Marketing Systems Group and the research was funded by Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics
801 New Jersey Adults
Male 48% N = 378 (+/-5%)
Female 52% N = 423 (+/-5%)
18-29 17% N = 143 (+/-8%)
30-49 36% N = 264 (+/-6%)
50-64 26% N = 196 (+/-7%)
65+ 20% N = 198 (+/-7%)
Democrat (with leaners) 46% N = 370 (+/-5%)
Independent 27% N = 196 (+/-7%)
Republican (with leaners) 27% N = 220 (+/-7%)
White 58% N = 534 (+/-4%)
Black 13% N = 90 (+/-9%)
Hispanic 19% N = 111(+/-9%)
Other 10% N = 48 (+/-14%)
LV1 through LV5 released October 11, 2019
US1 through US3 released October 8, 2019
NJ1 and NJ2 released October 11, 2019
SCHOOLS1 and SCHOOLS2 withheld
RR1 Do you think abortion should be legal in all cases, legal in most cases, illegal in most cases, or illegal in all cases? [Keep legal/illegal options together, but rotate order of legal/illegal]
1 Legal in all
2 Legal in most
3 Illegal in most
4 Illegal in all
8 DK (vol)
9 Refused (vol)
GS1 through GS3 withheld
SX Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statements: [ROTATE SX1 THROUGH SX5]
1 Strongly agree
4 Strongly disagree
8 DK (vol)
9 Refused (vol)
SX1 Most women interpret innocent remarks or actions as being sexist
SX2 Most women fail to appreciate fully all that men do for them
SX3 Women seek to gain power by getting control over men
SX4 Women are too easily offended.
SX5 Most women believe men don’t really care about equality
 Statements included in the scale are as follows: “Most women interpret innocent remarks or actions as being sexist,” “Most women fail to appreciate fully all that men do for them,” “Most women seek to gain power by getting control over men,” “and “Women are too easily offended.”
 NCHS, National Health Interview Survey, 2013-2017; U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2012-2016; and infoUSA.com consumer database, 2013-2017.
 Blumberg SJ, Luke JV. Wireless substitution: Early release of estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, July–December 2016. National Center for Health Statistics. May 2017.
 Blumberg SJ, Luke JV. Wireless substitution: Early release of estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, July-December 2018. National Center for Health Statistics. July 2019.
 The composite design effect for a sample of size n, with each case having a weight, is computed as