Fox News host Megyn Kelly set off the debate last week, responding to an article in Slate by reassuring viewers that "Santa just is white." But according to the new poll, 60 percent of Americans don't think it matters how Santa's race is portrayed, while 31 percent think that Santa should be white. Another 4 percent said they would prefer that Santa be some other race.
Although Democrats (by a 68 percent to 20 percent margin) and independents (by a 61 percent to 31 percent margin) said that they don't think it matters what race Santa is, Republicans were slightly more likely to say that Santa should be portrayed as white than that it doesn't matter. Forty-nine percent said they think Santa should be white, while 45 percent said it doesn't matter.
Frequent viewers of Fox News were more likely to prefer a white Santa than those who watch less frequently. Forty-one percent of those who said they often watch Fox News said they think Santa should be portrayed as white, while 47 percent said it doesn't matter. By contrast, 61 percent of those who said they only watch the channel sometimes said it doesn't matter, as did more than 60 percent of those who watch it rarely or never.
Kelly appeared to be reassuring theoretical children who might be watching her show that Santa is a real person with real characteristics. But most people don't think seeing Santa portrayed in a variety of ways is confusing to children, who already believe that a magical man from the North Pole delivers toys to everyone in the world in a sled drawn by flying reindeer.
By a 54 percent to 27 percent margin, most respondents said that it's not confusing for kids if Santa is sometimes portrayed as non-white. At least half of Democrats, Republicans and independents agreed.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Dec. 17-18 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.