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Poll Finds Men More Accepting of Political Name-Calling

3-26-12

Name-calling has become commonplace in the political arena, but many New Jersey voters disapprove of the practice. The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll just released its findings from a poll that asked voters which names they thought were unacceptable for politicians to call opponents. FDU PublicMind Poll Director Peter Woolley sat down with NJToday Managing Editor Mike Schneider to discuss the poll results.

The poll, titled “Hey, Numb Nuts: Not All Names Are Equal,” found that acceptance varied widely by gender with men more accepting of the 14 names in the poll than women. Political party also played a role. “Republicans tended to be a little more accepting of those names than Democrats,” Woolley said. The poll also looked at the responses of voters who approved and disapproved of Gov. Chris Christie. Woolley said there wasn’t much difference between those who approve or disapprove of the governor.

Woolley explained that names like “dishonest,” “corrupt” and “radical” were the most accepted by respondents while the least acceptable were “ignoramus,” “jerk” and “numbnuts.” In January, Christie called Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora “numbnuts” after Gusciora criticized the governor’s comments about gay marriage.

Woolley said he was surprised at the overall negative reaction to the term “numbnuts.” He also pointed out that our society often finds name-calling amusing. “It’s clear that people are entertained to some extent by name-calling,” he said. “We may say in civil discourse that people should be respectful, but the fact is we’re all talking about the exception to the rule at the water cooler. We find it amusing.”

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