A recent survey released by Pew Research Center finds that 54 percent of U.S. adults have heard “nothing at all” about the alt-right. Considering the post-election media frenzy surrounding the group and its members, the results are surprising. But it is also the latest evidence of a persistent gap between the media and the average American—or as Alex Pareene put it, “Your mentions are not the election.”
According to the survey, 28 percent of Americans know “a little” about the group, while only 17 percent know “a lot.” The results also reveal sharp partisan differences in the perception of the alt-right. Democrats were more likely to associate the group with white supremacy, racism, or prejudice. Republicans were more likely to characterize the movement as conservative.
In terms of education, majorities of those with college and postgraduate degrees (61 percent and 76 percent, respectively) are aware of the alt-right, significantly more than those with some college experience (42 percent) and a high school degree or less (34 percent).
There has been a robust debate in the media about how to define the alt-right, and whether the term itself puts a benign or even hip gloss on a group dedicated to white supremacy. But so far it appears that the media has failed on a more fundamental level of making the country aware that this movement exists.