What Comes First for Old Guys: A High Tolerance for Sexism or a GOP Affiliation?

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Do old boys think boys were being boys in the famous Trump–Bill Bush video?Photo: Obtained by The Washington Post/Getty Images

The court of public opinion is ruling pretty harshly against the language Donald Trump used in that now-famous Access Hollywood video. It could cost him even an outside shot at the presidency.

But data from a NBC/Wall Street Journal survey taken just after the video was released shows Trump does have one segment of the population willing to cut him some slack and then move on: older men.

Among the wider public, a plurality—41%—found the comments “completely unacceptable.”
Just over a third—34%—said they found the remarks “inappropriate, but typical of how some men talk in private with other men
[T]he more startling divides were generational. For instance, among men, 43% of those under 50 years old found Mr. Trump’s comments completely unacceptable, but just 30% of those over 50 felt that way. Younger women were also more likely to find the comments reprehensible, but the divide by age wasn’t nearly as stark.

The survey also found, unsurprisingly, that Republicans were much more likely than Democrats and independents to shrug off the Trump-Bush weenie-waving show as boys being boys rather than, you know, a future aspirant for the presidency bragging about committing sexual assault while a major media figure guffaws.

So this creates one of those fascinating chicken-and-egg dilemmas we all so enjoy kicking around: Are older men Republican-leaning in part because their attitudes reflect an era characterized by less-enlightened views about women (and minorities, for that matter)? Or are they indulgent of Trump’s behavior strictly because they are Republican and he is, God help them, their nominee?

I hope a graduate student somewhere is preparing to write a dissertation on this subject.