A new poll by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Tulchin Research was designed to examine the extent to which right-wing extremism has been absorbed into the mainstream. The results are extremely disturbing.
We found that the ideas underpinning the white nationalist “great replacement” narrative recently cited by an alleged white supremacist terrorist in Buffalo, New York, have become thoroughly mainstream on the political right. Nearly 7 in 10 Republicans surveyed agree to at least some extent that demographic changes in the United States are deliberately driven by liberal and progressive politicians attempting to gain political power by “replacing more conservative white voters.”
Tucker Carlson has made this white supremacist theory a staple of his show, with the explicit approval of his boss, Lachlan Murdoch. So it’s not a huge surprise that folks like Rep. Elise Stefanik, Sen. Ron Johnson, Rep. Matt Gaetz and U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance are echoing it, as SPLC noted, all of whom hold themselves up as responsible public policy figures.
Just as alarming, most of the great replacement believers think it’s an inherently liberal evil:
We found that a plurality of Americans has a positive view of the country’s changing demographics. But the same is not true for Republicans, a majority of whom viewed those changes not only negatively, but as a threat to white Americans. And a large majority — 67% — believe the country’s demographic changes are being orchestrated by “liberal leaders actively trying to leverage political power by replacing more conservative white voters.”
In other words, the “great replacement” paranoia may have as much to do with fear and loathing of the left as it does brown people, assuming the right sees any distinction at all.
Significantly, on the right, the belief that the left is using immigration to erode the political power of conservative white voters is correlated with other conspiratorial beliefs. Over three-quarters of those who believe the 2020 presidential election was “fraudulent, rigged and illegitimate” also at least somewhat agree that liberals are replacing conservative white voters, while 75% of those who believe the government is using the Jan. 6 insurrection to justify the political persecution of conservative Americans also agree with the replacement conspiracy.
Republicans are also most likely to have a negative view of the Black Lives Matter movement and the 2020 racial justice protests. Three-quarters of Republicans says they at least somewhat agree that Black Lives Matter activists are a threat to the country, compared to 34% of Democrats.
The implications for partisan violence are frightening: While Republicans and Democrats see each other as a threat to the country, Republicans rank Democratic extremists as the country’s most pressing threat, whereas Democrats rank Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and Republican extremists as the top three threats, the poll found. And this:
Those on the right appear more likely to approve of political violence. When asked whether they believed that “some violence might be necessary to protect the country from radical extremists,” 41% of Republicans agreed, compared to 34% of Democrats and 29% of independents. Over half of Republicans say the country seems headed toward a civil war in the near future, compared to 39% of Democrats.
But don’t expect Tucker Carlson to start crowing about Mission Accomplished any time soon. His goal is not just to instill prejudice, bigotry and hate but to inspire action based on that. And he is paid handsomely for it by the Murdochs.