Animal Tracker 2018: Favorability of Animal Protection
Two weeks ago we shared the first public results from the 2018 Faunalytics Animal Tracker survey. That first installment in our blog series provides an overview of the results and details of the survey methodology. In this blog we focus in-depth on just one of the survey questions. It asks participants’ opinions about a number of causes, including animal protection.
Here is the question:
What is your opinion of each of the following social causes or political movements?
Scale: Favorable, Unfavorable, No Opinion, Don’t Know
- Animal protection
- Homeless advocacy
- Workers’ rights
- Gay/lesbian rights
- Immigration reform
- Tax reform and relief
- Pro-life (anti-abortion)
Overall, of all the causes listed, the two that enjoyed the highest “favorable” ratings were animal protection (68%) and workers’ rights (69%). These two causes ranked ahead of tax reform/relief (60%), environmentalism (59%), homeless advocacy (57%), immigration reform (52%), gay/lesbian rights (46%), and pro-life (anti-abortion) (36%).
Despite current political upheavals in the U.S., the animal protection cause is retaining support, though favorability has not grown significantly since we began the survey 10 years ago. People – and public consciousness in general – change very slowly, and strategies and tactics for a cause must reflect that reality.
Animal advocates should continue to work on persuasion to increase public support, but that is just one part of a winning strategy. Gaining 100% public support is not necessary for significant change. Working to change legislation, regulations, inspection standards, industry behavior, and making alternatives more available (e.g., vegan products) can work together with changes in public sentiment to bring about pervasive, system-wide changes.
Below we focus on just the most recent Animal Tracker results (from April 2018) and dive into the differences on the first question by gender, age, level of formal education, ethnicity, geographic region, and presence or absence of companion animals in the household.
Gender: Women expressed more favorable attitudes toward animal protection than men (72% vs. 63%). Only 7% of women and 10% of men had an “unfavorable” opinion of animal protection. Of the social causes and political movements covered by this question, animal protection had the largest gender gap (9%). On gay/lesbian rights, homeless advocacy, and workers’ rights, more women held favorable attitudes (by 4-8%). More men held favorable attitudes toward tax reform/relief. On the other issues, the differences were within the survey’s margin of error.
Age: People age 45 and older expressed more favorable opinions toward the animal protection cause compared with younger adults (72% for age 45-59 and 71% for 60+ vs. 66% for ages 18-29 and 61% for ages 30-44). Similar patterns of support held for most of the other causes, with age groups 45-59 and 60+ more likely to support environmentalism, homeless advocacy, workers’ rights, immigration reform and tax reform/relief. For the pro-life cause, the oldest U.S. adults were most supportive at 40%. Only on gay/lesbian rights was the 18-29 age group most favorable of all groups at 50%.
Education: Differences in support of animal protection by level of formal education were modest. In fact, all of the causes, favorability toward animal protection was the least differentiated by education level. For the four education levels identified in the survey, all showed favorability toward animal protection in the range of 67% to 69%. The movements that elicited the largest gaps between education groups were environmentalism and gay/lesbian rights—in both cases, those with the most formal education (a bachelor’s degree or more) were significantly more likely to express favorable opinions than those with a high school diploma, with the other levels falling in between.
Ethnicity: As a representative survey, the Animal Tracker sample closely mirrors the demographic profile of the United States. That means that most respondents are white and that the sample sizes for other ethnic groups are very small, which reduces our ability to identify significant differences. If the attitudes expressed by various ethnic groups in this survey are representative, then large disparities exist in relation to animal protection support. Three groups expressed similar levels of favorable opinion for animal protection (White 72%, 2+ Races 71%, and Hispanic 68%). Two groups were less favorable toward the animal protection cause (Black 52% and Other 50%). Large differences also exist for two other political movements. On tax reform/relief, White support at 64% compared with Black support at 47% and the other two groups fell in between the two. On immigration reform, White U.S. adults favored the cause at 57% compared with Black and Other support, both at 41%.
Region: Regional differences were small on the issue of animal protection. Those in the West expressed a favorable opinion at the 71% level, while all three other regions (Northeast, Midwest, and South) registered a level of 67%, a difference that is within the survey’s margin of error. On four causes the difference in favorable opinion exceeded the margin of error; for all four, the differences were most pronounced between those in the Northeast and those in the South: gay/lesbian rights, immigration reform, tax reform/relief, and pro-life (anti-abortion).
Companion Animals in Household: The Animal Tracker includes a segment for people who have at least one companion animal (cat, dog, fish, bird, gerbil, reptile, horse, or other) and we compare them with people who do not have any companion animals. Not surprisingly, people with companion animals are much more likely to support the animal protection cause than those without a companion animal in the household (75% vs. 55%). Of the causes and political movements covered by the survey, animal protection had by far the largest gap when comparing by this demographic, but it was not the only one for which people with companion animals were more favorable. Other differences that exceeded the survey’s margin of error were homeless advocacy, workers’ rights, immigration reform, and tax reform/relief (gaps of 8%, 4%, 9%, and 9%, respectively).
The Animal Tracker attitude questions have been asked four times, most recently in 2018, but also in 2015, 2012, and 2009. Most of the attitudinal questions included in the Animal Tracker show generally consistent results over time, and this question is no exception.
Most of the changes in favorability between 2015 and 2018 were within the margin of error (+/- 3%). Those that were outside the margin of error were decreases rather than increases in favorability: tax reform/relief, environmentalism, and pro-life (anti-abortion), which are covered in more detail below.
What Is Your Opinion Of Each Of The Following Social Causes Or Political Movements (Favorability)?
Animal protection: The long-term trend since 2009 indicates little change in the percentage of U.S. adults that have had a favorable opinion of the animal protection cause. Except for 2015, when favorability rose to 70%, the other years (2009, 2012, and 2018) all uncovered a similar level of favorability around 67-68%. The “unfavorable” percentage has remained at or below 10% for all years of the survey.
Workers’ rights: There has been no long-term change in favorable opinion for the workers’ right movement. While there was an uptick in 2015 of 5% from 2012 (from 68% to 73%), the percentage of favorable opinions in 2018 returned to roughly the same level as in 2009 (71% in 2009 and 69% in 2018).
Tax reform and relief: From 2009 to 2018, those expressing a favorable opinion of the tax reform and relief cause decreased significantly from 70% to 60%. The two intervening years, 2012 and 2015, both revealed favorable opinion at 66%. Whether the passage of the U.S. tax bill in late 2017 accounts for any part of the decrease in 2018 is not clear.
Environmentalism: Support for the environmentalist cause decreased four percentage points from 2015 to 2018, from 63% to 59%, just outside the margin of error. These numbers are similar to the preceding two survey years, when we saw a similar swing from 62% in 2009 to 57% in 2012.
Homeless advocacy: Except for a significant dip in 2012 (49%), the long-term trend of support for homeless advocacy has stayed steady over the course of the Animal Tracker survey. 2018’s results (57% favorable opinion) matched 2009 (57%) and was within the survey’s margin of error when compared with 2015 (59%).
Immigration reform: There has been no significant long-term change in favorable opinion regarding immigration reform (with a high in 2015 and 2018 of 52% and a low in 2012 of 49%, within the survey’s margin of error). The lack of change in 2018 is somewhat of a surprise, given the controversial nature of the topic and its prominence in the media since the 2016 elections.
Gay/lesbian rights: From 2009 to 2018, those expressing a favorable opinion of the gay/lesbian rights cause increased significantly from 34% to 46%, with the largest change occurring between 2012 and 2015. Between 2015 and 2018 there was only a modest uptick of 1%, well within the survey’s margin of error.
Pro-life (anti-abortion): Of all the causes covered in this question, the pro-life cause experienced the most fluctuation from survey to survey. Favorable opinion declined from 39% in 2009 to 34% in 2012, then went up to 42% in 2015. In this year’s survey, favorable opinion decreased significantly to 36%.