• Polling

Americans are Concerned By Elected Officials Using “Wokeness” as a Distraction

Tuesday, April 4, 2023 By Bryan Bennett
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Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.
Key takeaways
  • Just over half say they are hearing about “wokeness,” while pluralities say they are not sure what it means.
  • Americans are most concerned about elected officials talking too much about “wokeness” at the expense of other issues, and they want Republican elected officials to talk about “wokeness” less.
  • Two in three say “anti-woke” politicians are “focused on the wrong things,” “trying to divide us,” and are concerned Republicans focused on wokeness talk about taking on “woke corporations” while “pushing for tax cuts for their wealthy donors, the rich, and corporations.”

Just Half of Americans Have Heard About “Wokeness,” With Fox News-Watching Republicans Driving Awareness

Democrats (53% “a lot”/”some”) and Republicans (59%) are hearing more about “wokeness” than independents (42%).

  • Fox News-watching Republicans are hearing the most about “wokeness” (66%), followed by MSNBC (60%) and CNN (58%) viewers.

Very Conservative GOP Are Twice as Likely to Hold Negative Views of “Wokeness” Than Americans Overall

Two in five Americans (39%), including half of independents (51%), say the term “means different things to everyone” or they “don’t know enough to say.” Very conservative Republicans drive the share who describe it as “policies and ideas that are going too far” (71%).

Americans Cite Critical Race Theory, Black Lives Matter, and Issues Related to Gender as “Woke” Policies

Partisanship Drives Views of Topics Like DEI, SEL, ESG, and CRT, Though Many Americans Are Unfamiliar With Each

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion” is viewed favorably by Democrats (net +56 favorable), independents (net +16), and across racial groups (from net +15 among white Americans to net +50 among Black Americans); Republicans stand alone in their unfavorable views (net -12).

  • Republicans also view social and emotional learning (net -1), ESG (net -18), and critical race theory (net -51) unfavorably.

Elected Officials Focusing Too Much on Wokeness at the Expense of Other Issues Bothers Americans Most

Roughly two in five Democrats (41%), independents (43%), and Republicans (38%) are more bothered by “elected officials talking too much about things like ‘wokeness’” than by elected officials standing in the way of progress or being too “woke.”

A Majority Say Republicans Should Spend Less Time Talking About “Wokeness”

Majorities of Democrats (63%) and independents (52%) say “Republicans should talk about wokeness less,” along with half of not very conservative Republicans (50%) and even 41% of very conservative Republicans.

Americans Say “Anti-Woke” Politicians Are Focused on the Wrong Things, Including Division and Extreme Views

Two in three say “focused on the wrong things” (68% well) and “trying to divide us… because they think it helps them gain more political power” (67%) describe candidates who call themselves “anti-woke” or “against wokeness” well.

  • While 62% of Americans think that candidates who describe themselves as “anti-woke” are “censoring freedom of speech,” just 49% say those politicians are “protecting freedom of speech,” driven by Republicans (net +20 well).

Strongest Frame Against GOP Focuses on Their Use of “Woke Corporations” Rhetoric While Rewarding the Rich With Tax Breaks

Republicans who feel their party is spending too much time talking about wokeness* are most concerned by “anti-woke” Republicans who talk about taking on “woke corporations” while looking out for the rich (50% concerning), focus on wokeness and are distracted from issues that really matter (42%), and use it to divide the country on race (40%).


About The Study

Global Strategy Group conducted public opinion surveys among a sample of 1,000 registered voters from March 23-March 27, 2023. 100 additional interviews were conducted among Hispanic voters. 80 additional interviews were conducted among Asian American and Pacific Islander voters. 100 additional interviews were conducted among African American voters. 102 additional interviews were conducted among independent voters.

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About Navigator

In a world where the news cycle is the length of a tweet, our leaders often lack the real-time public-sentiment analysis to shape the best approaches to talking about the issues that matter the most. Navigator is designed to act as a consistent, flexible, responsive tool to inform policy debates by conducting research and reliable guidance to inform allies, elected leaders, and the press. Navigator is a project led by pollsters from Global Strategy Group and GBAO along with an advisory committee, including: Andrea Purse, progressive strategist; Arkadi Gerney, The Hub Project; Joel Payne, The Hub Project; Christina Reynolds, EMILY’s List; Delvone Michael, Working Families; Felicia Wong, Roosevelt Institute; Mike Podhorzer, AFL-CIO; Jesse Ferguson, progressive strategist; Navin Nayak, Center for American Progress Action Fund; Stephanie Valencia, EquisLabs; and Melanie Newman, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

For press inquiries contact: press@navigatorresearch.org