Zero Percent of Fox News Republicans Trust President-Elect Biden to Provide Accurate Information or Advice on Coronavirus, Majorities Hold Extreme Views on Racial Justice and Immigration Issues
Washington, D.C. (November 19, 2020)—The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) today released its report “Trumpism After Trump? How Fox News Structures Republican Attitudes,” which contains new analysis of the opinions and beliefs of Fox News Republicans, the 40% of Republicans who say they most trust Fox News to give them accurate information about current events and politics.
Compared to the general population and even to other members of the GOP, Fox News Republicans—a group that is more conservative, older, and more likely to identify as white evangelical Protestant—hold more extreme views across a range of issues, particularly those related to political partisanship, racial justice and discrimination, and immigration.
“Fox News’s influence on the Republican Party is powerful and unique; there is no equivalent television media influence among Democrats or independents,” notes PRRI CEO and founder Robert P. Jones. “Fox News Republicans are Trump’s most loyal foot soldiers and will continue to tether the GOP to Trumpism long after Trump has vacated the White House. This fact may complicate any plans Trump has to create his own news network.”
The Impact of Fox News on Republican Perceptions of the Coronavirus Pandemic
Fox News Republicans stand out for their trust of President Donald Trump and their mistrust of all other sources of information and advice about the coronavirus pandemic. Among eight possible sources of information—including university research centers, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the Centers for Disease Control—President Trump is the only source a majority of Fox News Republicans believes provides accurate information and advice about the pandemic. Among non–Fox News Republicans, there is no source of pandemic information in which a majority places a lot of trust. Strikingly, no Fox News Republicans (0%) report a lot of trust in Joe Biden to provide accurate information or advice.
Consistent with these views, less than one-third of Fox News Republicans (32%), compared to 44% of non–Fox News Republicans, say the coronavirus pandemic is a critical issue to them personally. Among all Americans, 60% consider the pandemic to be a critical issue.
Just one in five Fox News Republicans (22%) say that the coronavirus outbreak could have been controlled better, while 77% say an outbreak of this size was inevitable. By contrast, majorities of non–Fox News Republicans (51%) and all Americans (69%) say the outbreak could have been controlled better. Just three in ten Fox News Republicans (30%), compared to 51% of non–Fox News Republicans and 69% of all Americans, agree that Trump and people in his administration contracted the coronavirus because they behaved irresponsibly.
Black Lives Matter and Racial Bias in Policing
In the wake of nationwide protests following the high-profile murders of Black Americans at the hands of the police, Fox News Republicans are at odds with most Americans on racial justice issues. Among all Americans, a majority (56%) say the recent killings of Black Americans by police are part of a pattern of how police treat African Americans, while 43% say these are isolated incidents. By contrast, nine in ten Fox News Republicans (90%) say that the recent killings of Black Americans by police are isolated incidents, while only 9% say they are part of a broader problem. A majority of, but significantly fewer, non–Fox News Republicans (72%) say they are isolated incidents.
A majority of Americans (58%) favor the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, while 41% are opposed. By contrast, just 8% of Republicans who most trust Fox News favor BLM’s goals, compared to 27% of Republicans who most trust other news sources.
Nearly six in ten Americans (57%) believe that President Trump’s decisions and behavior have encouraged white supremacist groups. Only 3% of Fox News Republicans, compared to 28% of non–Fox News Republicans, agree. Most Fox News Republicans say that President Trump’s decisions and behavior have not had an impact on white supremacists (84%), and 11% believe he has discouraged white supremacist groups.
Fox News Republicans are more likely than their fellow Republicans to support Trump’s harshest and more controversial immigration policies. Nearly all Fox News Republicans (96%) support building a wall along the U.S. border, while non–Fox News Republicans (78%) and all Americans (42%) are less likely to support a border wall.
A policy of separating immigrant children from their parents and charging the parents as criminals when they enter the country without permission has been one of the most criticized immigration policies of the Trump administration. Fox News Republicans are one of the only major constituencies in the country in which a majority (53%) support this child separation policy. Among non–Fox News Republicans, only 41% support the policy, while a majority (58%) oppose it. Less than one in four Americans (23%) support this policy.
When asked about their preferred policy solution for the approximately 11 million people who are living in the country illegally, Fox News Republicans also stand out from their fellow Republicans and all Americans. Majorities of all Americans (64%) and non– Fox News Republicans (51%) say they should be allowed a way to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements. By contrast, only 42% of Fox News Republicans agree. Nearly half of Fox News Republicans (47%) say they should be deported, a view shared by only 32% of non–Fox News Republicans and 19% of all Americans.
PRRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy.
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