A study of political attitudes in a rural Texas County




Wall, Carylon Earl.

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Purposes: The purposes of this investigation were to determine the following: (1) the political opinions of a selected, rural population from Central Texas on the attitudes of political involvement, issue familiarity, economic liberalism, internationalism, civil liberties, and party affiliations; (2) the political values of the nation's population on each of these six, attitudinal factors; and (3) any significant differences that might exist between the attitudes of the two populations. Methods: The methods used to obtain the data for this study were: (1) a survey questionnaire administered to fifty individuals randomly selected from two voting precincts in Mills County, Texas; and (2) data obtained from similar questionnaires used in voting studies done on a national level. The statistical techniques used in this investigation were: (1) Buchanan's Percentage Differences to determine if any significant attitudinal differences existed between the Texas sample and the national electorate; and (2) chi-square significance tests and lambda measures of association to quantify the relation-ship between the survey data and the three independent variables. Findings: 1. Rural voters were more willing to become involved in the affairs of politics than the national sample. A greater eagerness to participate in campaign activities was the distinguishing feature between the opinions of the two populations on the attitude of political Involvement. 2. There was no significant difference between the ranking of the two samples on the issue familiarity index. Both groups had a high familiarity with the contemporary political issues confronting the nation. 3. The rankings of the rural sample on the economic liberalism index were very similar to the rankings of the general public. A large majority of the respondents in both populations were classified as economic moderates. 4. Agrarians were inclined to be more isolationist in their foreign policy attitudes than the general public. Foreign aid and military involvement abroad were the two items receiving the most isolationist sentiment from the rural electorate. 5. No definite conclusions were reached on the fifth attitude since the national voting studies have, as of yet, failed to develop any statistical device to measure this attitude. Based on the limited findings of other voting studies, the rural population is probably more authoritarian in its views toward government than the general public. 6. The selected population was more inclined to identify with the Democratic Party than the general population. The Star and Center City voters were also more willing to vote a split-ticket than the national sample.