The Silent Majority: Neither Simple nor Simple-Minded.

by Robert A. Levine

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A discussion on the thesis that is operationally and philosophically incorrect to look upon voters as members of blocs that move back and forth along a line from left to right. Today's citizens are individuals with widely mixed views. They may be oriented along entirely different axes from the political theorists who find them inconsistent. For example, opinion polls favor Negroes' right to live where they please, yet open housing legislation is consistently defeated, and stably integrated neighborhoods are rare. Detailed reanalysis of poll data shows strong majorities against both forced segregation and "forced integration." Whites' stated willingness to live next door to blacks coexists with an unwillingness to live among many blacks. The number is crucial. Thus, stated opinions expressing willingness to live in racially mixed neighborhoods are actually consistent with voting against requiring open housing and with the fact that mixed neighborhoods tend to become all-black. Deeper analysis is needed before applying poll results to policymaking. 13 pp. Ref. (MW)

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