Beyond Red vs. Blue: Pew Research Center's New Political Typology

    Overview and acess to full reports, released May 4, 2011

    The Pew Research Center’s new Political Typology finds that the public is more doctrinaire at each end of the ideological spectrum, yet more diverse in the middle than it has been in the past. The typology, the fifth since 1987, sorts Americans into cohesive groups based on their values, political beliefs and party affiliation.

    .....a growing number of Americans are choosing not to identify with either political party, and the center of the political spectrum is increasingly diverse. Rather than being moderate, many of these independents hold extremely strong ideological positions on issues such as the role of government, immigration, the environment and social issues. But they combine these views in ways that defy liberal or conservative orthodoxy.

    For political leaders in both parties, the challenge is not only one of appeasing ideological and moderate “wings” within their coalitions, but rather holding together remarkably disparate groups, many of whom have strong disagreements with core principles that have defined each party’s political character in recent years.....


    Sounds like the ideal environment for a national move to ranked choice instant run-off voting, like we have in San Fran.

    While the category names they created might be a bit hokey, yeah, this report really makes it seem like Americans no longer have a national vote system that is in sync with the public. If the trajectory pictured would continue, it leads to the death of both parties, no? Independent more and more becoming the biggest identification, no "big tents." People voting for individuals who agree with them on certain issues, not parties and not party line.

    There's this picture they are painting of passionate attachment to single issues, which seems to alientate people from either party which they might normally identity with (or used to identify with,)  kind of makes sense to me when I combine it with what I see in the blogosphere. The net is a tool to become even more passionate (with the risk of becoming myopic) about an issue than ever before. Which points more towards a parliamentary system of many parties, each agitatin' about certain specific things?

    I don't recognize myself in any of those categories.

    No surprise there, Dan, everyone in the blogosphere knows you're special. Laughing

    Isn't that the point Pew is making?

    and that's an excellent point bslev is making....Smile

    How can you think that is an excellent point when it manifestly contradicts the putative results presented in the table?

    Pew may believe that we just don't think we belong in one of his boxes, Dan.  It's crucial that we be categorized, for without classification, there is no taxonomy, without which there is no...uh...what was that again?

    My personal fave was 'disaffected downscale'!  Knew I should have become an Indie before the new classifications!  Is there still time, Mr. Pew?  

    Ain't no 'populist radical' (or what used to be called 'the Left'.) either.  The Indie classes seem seriousy lacking in profiles, IMO.

    Yeah, what is it about the US media and political industry that makes them so insistent on denying the very existence of a left wing in this country.  The left is not the same thing as people who descibe themselves as "liberals".

    If we are invisible or labeled throw-backs, conspiracists, kooks, fringe, la la la, we are easier to discount and ignore.  And most will not listen or learn from us...they hope, as in 'the ideas are tainted, marginal, impossible in the present political climate, with these self-identifying political percentages. 

    And nice job on Andrew Rich's piece.   ;o)  Even Randy Wray showed up! 


    The best I could identify with was the Post Moderns, but that was still too vague. I definitely prefer to straddle both the democrat turf and the middle ground, but that wasn't a well defined position. And I suspect if they did try to elaborate more, there would be serious confusion and arguing what represents this and what represents that.

    So they found the public is migrating towards the extremes of the political playing fields because there is safety in numbers and leaving the middle ground vacant...a no-mans-land that will swallow up anyone foolish enough to venture into it without substantial backing and a lifeline if things gets too rough.

    Which begs the question:  For the politician who wants to follow the "will of the nation" - what to do?

    Um, no.  It claims that 100% of the public and 100% of registered voters fall into one of the categories it has created.

    I didn't just read that one table. They've got mass quantities of analysis with this (not saying I read it all.)  That table is basically a come-on, a lede.

    For crying out loud, Dan, you just did a dramatic blog post saying you're through with the Democratic party until they change to practicing like you would prefer.

    I think the people at Pew recongnize that given the diversity, that even breaking it into these categories will not reflect the voting public.  Which is part of the point:

    For political leaders in both parties, the challenge is not only one of appeasing ideological and moderate “wings” within their coalitions, but rather holding together remarkably disparate groups, many of whom have strong disagreements with core principles that have defined each party’s political character in recent years.


    It's in their title Beyond Red vs. Blue. I buy that, I think that's a significant point, I think the big red vs. blue thing is over,it  doesn't describe anything happening anymore. What I read in their reports made me realize it. I thought of all the speeches and bluster and blogging about red states vs. blue states (even a Red State blog,) and it all seems history. Perhaps it never was accurate in the first place--lots of people objected right away by calling themselves or their states purple.

    The next step will be to look at how this breaks down regionally and locally across the country.  Except for the president, it really doesn't matter too much how the numbers fall for the whole country.  For instance, what does "Democrat" Senator Nelson's consituency look like and would there ever be a chance of an actual progressive Democrat taking his place.  This local breakdown would give a better indication of why a lot of the politicans act as they do.

    Also the quiz that associated with this report is interesting - find out which group you would get associated with.

    And the quiz said ... Solid Liberal.


    The questions asked were those I use to keep a firm footing within the Democrat domain. However, I do consider opinions of GOPer's simply because sometimes they really do cut to the chase and deliver what is truly necessary. Of course, that's a rare event, like a blue moon, but does happen from time to time.

    I would sure like to know what they believe makes up someone from the middle ground?

    No surprise that I came out a solid liberal in the quiz. I skipped the immigration question because it didn't differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants. Makes a big difference, I think. The illegals (or "undocumented" if you prefer) have to work for peanuts and they're here by the millions, living poor, whereas the immigrants who come here legally tend to fill jobs requiring some skill and the numbers aren't as great. I'm still struggling with my own feelings about illegals and their impact here. It's a problem that's not so black and white. It's one place where, for me, pragmatism and compassion collide.

    <i>I skipped the immigration question because it didn't differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants.</i>

    An excellent point.  That's an illustration of the crude and pseudo-scientific nature of polls such as this one.  You start with some coarse and biased prejudices about the fundamental categories into which people fall; and then you design a selective list of questions that force people to steer themselves into one of the categories you have created.

    These are games of manufacturing reality played by the professional political class.  Not a one of you is really best understood as a Staunch Conservative, Main Stree Republican, Libertarian, Disaffected, Post-Modern, New Coalition Democrat, Hard-Pressed Democrat, Solid Liberal or Bystander.

    Since when did polls not steer the answers to support a pre-determined understanding? The poll in question here was specifically designed to categorize those willing to answer the questions into pre-determined categories. It said I was a Solid Liberal which I'm not. The attributes that define a Solid Liberal in this poll are of the imagination of the person developing the questions, not those of a real Solid Liberal. Perhaps it's best to consider this poll and it's results are nothing more than the opinion of the authors of the questions. So I wonder what point they're trying to create out of thin air using a poll with biased questions?

    I got solid liberal, too, but a lot of those choices were both brain-dead.

    Like Dan I was having some difficulty identifying with those typologies.   Disaffected* is probably most apt but I balked at identifying as Downscale and Cynical. :-)  Finally remembering that it is usually helpful to read the link,  I discovered Pew's chart of how their typologies have changed:  Today's Disaffecteds are 1994's Embittered. 

    So Disaffected it is!  Sounds about right.  

    *dis·af·fect·ed Adjective: Dissatisfied with the people in authority and no longer willing to support them.


    Doesn't look like the types are supposed to correspond from left to right.

    Some do, most don't.  Pew's narrative accompanying the charts explains the changes.  Is Disaffected is a kinder, gentler way of saying Embittered?


    I think they caught me in that new category, the "Newly-Moral, Staunchly-Disaffected, Two-Cheeseburger, Couldn't Get Much More Fucking Embittered Than I Already Am, Hardly-Partisan (But Kill The Republicans), Did I Mention I'm Deeply Savouring The Bitterness, Passively Aggressive, Surrounded By Fools, Turn It The Fuck UP Willya, Democrat." Join me.

    Near Orthogonian level of ressentiment in few words.  :-D


    I try (though they sneer.)  Laughing

    I think half of this is horseshit. Yes, people are identifying less with the two parties. No, independents are not "increasingly diverse".

    They always were incredibly diverse.

    Look back at scatterplots of the electorate regarding social versus economic policy stances in '64 or '80 and you see the two dimensions are statistically independent (see here p 229, for instance). Knowing someone is/was socially liberal tells you nothing about their economic views. They are and always were just as likely to be economically liberal as they were economically conservative. Knowing someone is/was economically liberal tells you nothinga bout their social views. Knowing someone is/was socially conservative tells you nothing about their economic views and knowing someone is/was economically conservative tells you nothing about their social views.

    In short, the democratic and republican coalitions as they currently exist are and always were totally artificial. You could easily have parties polarized along completely different lines - an economically liberal party with socially conservative views versus an economically conservative party with socially liberal views.

    Right now economic liberals are getting totally screwed because they are the junior partner in a dem coalition run by wealthy coastal elite social liberals. Which makes it wildly successful at achieving progress on equal rights issues (cf. Lilly Ledbetter and DADT repeal) and horrible at achieving anything for working class prosperity. And social conservatives are getting royally screwed because they are the junior partner in GOP coalition run by wealthy coastal elite economic conservatives. Which means it is wildly successful at destroying regulation, cutting taxes, breaking trade barriers, and horribly indifferent in achieving anything on religious values.

    So if they can pry themselves away from their respective wealthy party elite, both economic liberals and social conservatives would probably be happier in a new marriage of convenience with each other.

    Not a terribly original point, but worth making nonetheless imho.

    Worth making; yeppers.  And nice to see you, Seldom Seen.  :o)  I also wanted to tell you that your math on 'likely voters' and how small the pool became due to disillusionment and abandonment, was really good.  Should have been easy to see, but I never saw it.

    I'm a scorpio!

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