These old people were probably just talking about how shit rap is, according to a new poll. Photo via Flickr user AZAdam
Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm that’s normally one of the most accurate political pollsters around, sometimes has too much time on its hands. When it does, it takes national nonpolitical surveys of basically whatever the people running PPP think would be funny. In the past they’ve discovered that 62 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Halloween, 47 percent think there’s a war on Christmas, and a surprisingly large amount believe in all kinds of conspiracy theories.
This month, they polled over 500 Americans about music, famous musicians, and hipsters. Some results went up yesterday, and it turns out that voters like classical music and jazz more than other genres by a fairly large margin, are into Adele and Taylor Swift, dislike Justin Beiber and Chris Brown, and like Beyonce better than Jay-Z. Oh yeah, and they hate rap—50 percent of the voters polled said that it’s their least favorite genre of music, and 68 percent of them had an unfavorable view of it. Dubstep and Skrillex had bad numbers as well, but 47 percent and 54 percent, respectively, were “not sure” what their opinions of those entities were, which makes it pretty clear that a lot of the folks taking this phone poll had never heard of them.
The real purpose of this poll is to remind us that the voting population of the United States, especially the ones who get polled in surveys, is old. PPP weighs its results for age, but 60 percent of the people polled were older than 45, and only 16 percent were younger than 30. Part of this is due to polls only calling landlines (how many 20-somethings have actual “home numbers”?), and part of it is that more old people are willing to go, “Oh, sure, I do have a few minutes to respond to an automated polls about musical genres!” But also, the electorate—defined as the people who actually bother to vote—remains full of people who don’t like the rappity-rapping and who probably think Skrillex is a no-stick frying pan sold on QVC. Despite the efforts of Rock the Vote and its Youth Spokespeople™ like Madonna, the Ramones, Miley Cyrus, and both Gyllenhaals, the olds are still kicking the youngs' collective ass when it comes to participating in democracy.
So when PPP asks voters about music, it’s really asking old people about music, which explains the results of the other two sections of the poll, which PPP gave me a look at before their scheduled release. Some shocking statistics from the section dealing with classic rock: a whopping 26 percent of voters have an unfavorable opinion of the Rolling Stones (and only 61 percent of voters like them), more voters have an unfavorable opinion of Kurt Cobain (44 percent) than a favorable one (25 percent), and 86 percent have never downloaded music illegally. The average voter, as we speak, is listening to old-timey jazz on a CD he bought at Circuit City (RIP) in preparation to call his son via landline and ask, again, how to get Google on his computer.
The third part of the poll deals with hipsters without explaining the term, which has been diluted and redefined so much it now just means, “A young person who likes… bikes? And Wu-Tang? And flannel? And tattoos? I don’t know anymore, guys.” Not surprisingly, voters don’t like hipsters, whoever they are—46 percent of them agreed that hipsters “just soullessly appropriate cultural tropes from the past for their own ironic amusement.”
The only notable thing about the hipster section of the survey is that when you filter the results to remove the old people, hipsters don’t have such a bad rap after all:
Young people have different opinions than older people—not just on silly shit like Bieber and rap and whoever a hipster is, but on the more substantial stuff that pollsters usually deal in. Young people, for instance, have greater levels of cynicism toward government and politics. Their opinions, though, are often overshadowed in polls that tilt toward middle-aged and older people due to methodological reasons.
But that doesn't make them invalid. Today’s 18–29-year-olds are going to inherit the Earth, after all, and although the Cobain-hating, jazz-loving seniors haven’t left it in great shape, maybe the millenials will be able to improve it through the force of their ideas. For instance, young people are all about drugs:
And the 90s:
It seems to me that the world is going to be in pretty good shape when it passes into the next generation's hands.
More on polling: