News Interest Index: Democrats Highly Critical of New Yorker Cover, Republicans Say It Was Okay

  • July 24, 2008

As Barack Obama prepared for a major international trip last week, a controversial magazine cover here at home drew more public attention. Fully four-in-ten Americans heard a lot about a satirical cartoon on the cover of the New Yorker magazine showing Obama and his wife in the Oval Office – the candidate dressed as a Muslim and his wife holding a machine gun. A quarter of the public heard a little about the magazine cover and only 33% heard nothing at all about it.

Among those who actually saw the Obama cover – roughly half of the public (51%) – the verdict was decidedly mixed. While 50% say it was okay for the New Yorker to publish the cover, 45% say it was not okay.

Attitudes about the cover differ sharply by party. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans who saw the cover say it was okay for the magazine to publish it, 65% of Democrats disagree. Independents are much closer to Republicans in their views on this issue: 59% say what the New Yorker did was okay 36% say it was not.

A majority of those who saw the cover (54%) think it was offensive. Relatively few (27%) think it was funny. Again, there are significant differences between Republicans and Democrats. An overwhelming majority of Democrats (70%) find the image offensive. This compares with only 41% of Republicans. More than half of Democrats (53%) say the cover was racist. Only 19% of Republicans agree.

On balance, however, Republicans do not think the cover was clever – 40% say it was, and 58% disagree. Only 22% of Democrats find the cover clever, 77% say it was not. Independents are evenly divided over this – 48% say it was clever, 51% say it was not. A third of independents (34%) found the cover to be funny as did 31% of Republicans. Only 17% of Democrats agreed.

Read the full report Democrats Highly Critical of New Yorker Cover, Republicans Say It Was Okay on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.