Democrats, liberals most likely to unfriend on Facebook over politics?

Who’d have guessed that the tolerance brigades would be the least tolerant of dissenting political opinion? Oh, let’s not always see the same hands … According to the polling firm PRRI, self-identifying Democrats and liberals are much more likely to have unfriended people on Facebook over a political post than any other demographics. Democratic women report the highest level of all, at 30%.

But is this really on the level? Or is this just clickbait?

Nearly one-quarter (24%) of Democrats say they blocked, unfriended, or stopped following someone on social media after the election because of their political posts on social media. Fewer than one in ten Republicans (9%) and independents (9%) report eliminating people from their social media circle.

Political liberals are also far more likely than conservatives to say they removed someone from their social media circle due to what they shared online (28% vs. 8%, respectively). Eleven percent of moderates say they blocked, unfollowed, or unfriended someone due to what they posted online.

There is also a substantial gender gap. Women are twice as likely as men to report removing people from their online social circle because of the political views they expressed online (18% vs. 9%, respectively). Notably, the gender gap also differs significantly across political affiliation. Three in ten (30%) Democratic women say they removed an individual from their online social network because of a political opinion they expressed, while only 14% of Democratic men reported doing this. Republican men and women are about equally as likely to say they blocked, unfollowed, or unfriended someone on social media because of political posts (10% vs. 8%, respectively).

Color me skeptical on this one. PRRI is a legit polling firm, but there are a couple of yellow flags that pop up on this survey, which got some traction among conservatives on social media yesterday after The Hill picked it up. First, the crosstabs aren’t readily available, so there’s no way to check on the validity of the sample.  The Hill lists it as 1004 adults, with a 3.6% margin of error, which seems relatively reliable in general, but most of these results are in small percentages where the MoE would come into play (except with Democratic women).

Second, it’s just a little too good to be true. It feels like clickbait, right down to the assumption-validating conclusion that the tolerance brigades are the worst offenders on tolerance. Assuming the data was collected properly — which one has to do with PRRI — it also might just be a case of respondent bias, or more simply a reflection of the immediate political environment. Liberals and Democrats might be more likely to admit blocking and unfollowing over Facebook postings than conservatives and Republicans, who come under greater social pressure to demonstrate tolerance of dissenting political opinions. In the midst of the post-election crackup on the Left, proclaiming blocks on conservatives might be a badge of honor, while those on the Right don’t mind having ringside seats at the meltdown — at least for now.

Perhaps PRRI should wait for a less politicized time to conduct this survey. And that would be, um … er …. well, good luck with that, I guess.

As a way of making amends for being Captain Buzzkill on that part of the survey, take a look at the chart on Christmas greetings. I don’t know that there’s really a war on “Merry Christmas,” but there does appear to be a significant partisan divide on its use in the retail sector.


I’d rather people say what’s in their heart rather than worry about potential offense. If they feel moved to say, “Happy holidays,” that’s fine, but people should feel free to say “Merry Christmas” too. That’s actual tolerance rather than enforced political correctness.

Update: I completely missed that John had already written about this poll yesterday. I do take a more skeptical view of it, but be sure to read his post as well.