Belief in “War on Christmas” Bigger Than Ever Nationally

 

 

 

Belief in “War on Christmas” Bigger Than Ever Nationally

Trump supporters, Hispanics drive increase in belief that politicians are sidelining “Christ”

Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ, December 1, 2021 – More Americans believe that there is a “war on Christmas” this holiday season than in years past, with nearly 4 in 10 (37 percent) Americans now saying that politicians are trying to remove the religious elements of the Holiday season, up from 29 percent in 2013. At the same time, the percent of Americans who “strongly disagree” that there is a war on Christmas has declined from a majority (54 percent) in 2013, to 37 percent today. According to a new national survey from the FDU Poll, this increase is driven by Republicans, Trump supporters, and, surprisingly, Hispanic Americans.

“The ‘War on Christmas’ narrative is appealing because it lets Christians lay a claim to victimhood,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at Fairleigh Dickinson, and the executive director of the poll. “If you’re part of a group that’s been dominant for hundreds of years, movements towards equality tend to feel like discrimination.”

Since the FDU Poll first measured the phenomenon in 2013, belief in the War on Christmas has grown significantly. Today, 37 percent of Americans agree that there has “been a concerted effort on the part of some politicians to take ‘Christ’ out of ‘Christmas,’ up from 29 percent in 2013.

The biggest driver of this change has been increasing support for the idea among Republicans, and especially among Trump supporters. Belief among Democrats and independents has not changed significantly in the last eight years, but today, 2 out of 3 (66 percent) Republicans agree with the War on Christmas idea, up from 40 percent. In 2013.

Evangelical or “born again” Christians (54 percent) are more likely to believe in a war on Christmas than those who don’t hold those religious views (29 percent), but the best predictor of belief in the war on Christmas is vote choice in the 2020 US Presidential election. Fully 71 percent of those who say that they voted for Trump in 2020 agree that there is a “war on Christmas, compared to just 14 percent of Biden supporters. A majority of Trump supporters (51 percent) “strongly” agree with the sentiment.

“Trump made this claim a centerpiece of his Presidential campaigns and in the speeches he gave at rallies,” said Cassino. “His embrace of the war on Christmas narrative has made it an article of faith for his supporters.”

But the change in belief doesn’t come from just Trump supporters and Republicans. Also coming around to believing in the War on Christmas are Hispanic and Latino Americans. In the 2013 poll, just 9 percent of Hispanics said that they agreed with the War on Christmas statement, and only 1 percent said that they agreed “strongly.” Today, 39 percent of Hispanics think there is a War on Christmas, and 1 in 4 (25 percent) “strongly agree” with the statement.

Older Americans are also much more likely to believe in the War on Christmas than they were in the past. Belief among Americans under 45 has stayed stable over the past eight years (24 percent agreement among 18- to 29-year-olds, and 35 percent among 30-44 in both surveys), but belief among older cohorts has shot up. Today, 35 percent of Americans 65 and older say that there’s a war on Christmas, alongside half (49 percent) of Americans 45 to 64. In 2013, just 26 percent of voters 45 and over said the same.

“The war on Christmas is a central example of how divided our culture has become,” said Cassino. “Republicans and Democrats are living in two different worlds, seeing different threats, so it’s no surprise they have trouble agreeing on just about anything.”

The modern American belief in a “war on Christmas” goes back to a 2005 book by a Fox News contributor, and a segment on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program discussing that book. It was picked up and repeated many times that year, and in subsequent years, on Fox News programs, and spread through online conservative channels. Mentions of it in conservative news sources had decreased substantially until former President Trump began discussing it in interviews and in speeches.

Methodology

The survey was conducted between November 9 and November 16, 2021, using a certified list of registered voters in Nationwide. Respondents were randomly chosen from the list and contacted via either live-caller telephone interviews or text-to-web surveys sent to cellular phones, resulting in an overall sample of 802 respondents. 416 of the surveys were carried out via the TTW platform, 128 of the interviews were carried out via landline telephones, and the remainder (280) were done on cellular phones. Surveys were conducted only in English.

The data were weighted to be representative of the population of registered voters nationwide, as of the 2020 US Presidential election. The weights used, like all weights, balance the demographic characteristics of the sample to match known population parameters. The weighted results used here are balanced to match parameters for sex, age, education and race/ethnicity.

SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure, was used to produce final weights. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis helps to ensure that the demographic characteristics of the sample approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population. The size of these weights is used to construct the measure of design effects, which indicate the extent to which the reported results are being driven by the weights applied to the data, rather than found in the data itself. Simply put, these design effects tell us how many additional respondents would have been needed to get the weighted number of respondents across weighted categories: larger design effects indicate greater levels of under-representation in the data. In this case, calculated design effects are approximately 1.42.

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 802 registered voters is +/-3.5 percentage points, at a 95 percent confidence interval. Including the design effects, the margin of error would be +/-4.6 percentage points, though the figure not including them is much more commonly reported.

This error calculation does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question-wording, differences in translated forms, or context effects. While such errors are known to exist, they are often unquantifiable within a particular survey, and all efforts, such as randomization and extensive pre-testing of items, have been used to minimize them.

 

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

802 Registered Voters Nationally

Figures are weighted to overall voter characteristics from previous gubernatorial elections. Respondents who refused to answer a demographic item are not included.

Man                                

46%                 N = 379

Woman                            

52%                 N = 428

Some Other Way          

1%                  N = 7

 

18-29                          

16%                N = 132

30-44                          

32%                 N = 267

45-64                          

28%                 N = 234

65+                              

23%                 N = 191

 

Democrat (with leaners)             

42%                 N = 343

Independent                                 

15%                 N = 124

Republican (with leaners)          

33%                 N = 269

 

White                                           

67%                N = 553

Black                                              

12%                N = 98

Hispanic/Latino/a                                     

12%                N = 98

Asian                                       

4%                  N = 33

Other/Multi-racial                                    

2%                  N = 16

 

No college degree                      

40%                N = 302

College degree or more             

59%                N = 489

Question Wording and Order

T1. Last year, many families weren’t able to see each other in person for the holidays, but more people are going to be able to this year. How about you? Will you be seeing family and friends in person over the Holidays this year, or not?

  1. Will be seeing
  2. Will not be seeing
  3. Not sure [Vol]
  4. DK/REF [Vol]

T2. [Only if seeing people in T1] Do you think you’ll see more people in person than you have in most years, fewer people than in most years, or will it be about the same as most years?

  1. More people
  2. Fewer people
  3. About the same
  4. Not sure [Vol]
  5. DK/REF [Vol]

T3. Whether you’re going to see them this year or not, we’d like to ask about how you generally feel about seeing relatives in person over the Holidays. Some people look forward to seeing their relatives over the holidays, while others are a little more conflicted about it. Some people even dread it. Which best describes you? Do you…

  1. Look forward to seeing your relatives
  2. Feel conflicted about seeing relatives
  3. Dread seeing relatives
  4. Not sure [Vol]
  5. DK/REF [Vol]

T4. Over the holidays, do you talk about political or social issues with your family and friends…

  1. Frequently
  2. Sometimes
  3. Rarely
  4. Never
  5. Not sure [Vol]
  6. DK/REF [Vol]

We’d like to read you a few statements about how you feel about voicing your opinions. For each, tell me if you strongly agree with the statement, somewhat agree, neither agree nor disagree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree

T5. I enjoy talking about important issues with family and friends.

T6. It’s important to voice my opinion, even if other people disagree with it.

T7. If someone says something that I disagree with, I let them know about it.

T8. I know more about political and social issues than most people.

  1. Strongly Agree
  2. Somewhat Agree
  3. Neither Agree nor Disagree
  4. Somewhat Disagree
  5. Strongly Disagree
  6. [DK/REF]

Issues

I’m going to read you some statements about controversial issues in current US culture. For each, tell me if you strongly agree with the statement, somewhat agree, neither agree nor disagree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree

[Shuffle Order]

V1. There was significant voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential election.

V2. COVID-19 vaccines are much more dangerous than we’re being told.

V3. There has been a concerted effort by politicians to take “Christ” out of “Christmas.”

  1. Strongly Agree
  2. Somewhat Agree
  3. Somewhat Disagree
  4. Strongly Disagree
  5. [DK/REF]

 

Release Tables

 

 

 

Party ID (2021)

 

 

Party ID (2013)

 

There has been a concerted effort to take “Christ” out of “Christmas”

2021

Dem

Indp

Rep

Dem

Indp

Rep

Strongly Agree

24

6

23

46

10

23

33

Somewhat Agree

13

9

14

20

6

12

7

Somewhat Disagree

13

15

16

9

18

6

5

Strongly Disagree

37

57

27

17

60

50

51

Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

13

13

20

8

6

9

4

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnicity (2021)

 

2020 Vote

 

There has been a concerted effort to take “Christ” out of “Christmas”

2021

White

Black

Hisp

Biden

Trump

Strongly Agree

24

24

16

25

7

51

Somewhat Agree

13

15

8

14

7

20

Somewhat Disagree

13

12

12

14

15

8

Strongly Disagree

37

40

43

26

59

14

Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

13

9

21

21

12

7

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnicity (2013)

 

There has been a concerted effort to take “Christ” out of “Christmas”

2013

White

Black

Hisp

Strongly Agree

21

25

20

1

Somewhat Agree

9

8

8

8

Somewhat Disagree

11

12

14

7

Strongly Disagree

54

50

56

77

Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

7

7

3

7

 

 

 

 

 

Age

 

There has been a concerted effort to take “Christ” out of “Christmas”

2021

18-29

30-44

45-64

65+

Strongly Agree

24

12

25

30

23

Somewhat Agree

13

12

10

19

12

Somewhat Disagree

13

17

14

11

10

Strongly Disagree

37

36

39

28

45

Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

13

23

12

12

10

 

 

 

 

 

Age (2013)

 

There has been a concerted effort to take “Christ” out of “Christmas”

2013

18-29

30-44

45-59

60+

Strongly Agree

21

12

25

23

22

Somewhat Agree

9

12

10

5

4

Somewhat Disagree

11

19

9

8

9

Strongly Disagree

54

50

47

59

60

Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

7

8

9

5

5

 

 

 

 

Party ID (2021)

 

 

Sex (2021)

There has been a concerted effort to take “Christ” out of “Christmas”

2021

Dem

Indp

Rep

Men

Women

Strongly Agree

24

6

23

46

23

24

Somewhat Agree

13

9

14

20

16

12

Somewhat Disagree

13

15

16

9

10

15

Strongly Disagree

37

57

27

17

42

33

Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

13

13

20

8

9

16

 

 

 

Born Again/Evangelical

 

There has been a concerted effort to take “Christ” out of “Christmas”

 

Yes

No

Strongly Agree

24

39

16

Somewhat Agree

13

15

13

Somewhat Disagree

13

9

15

Strongly Disagree

37

28

43

Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

13

9

13

Media Contact:                           

Dan Cassino 

Executive Director, FDU Poll    

973.896.7072/ dcassino@fdu.edu

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