The Pew centre’s latest breakdown of the U.S. electorate illustrates what anyone who watches cable news has known for some time now – American political attitudes are fractious.
Republican groups have coalesced into a single conservative bloc since 2005, the last time the centre conducted the survey. This is likely – if not primarily – the result of unified opposition to a Democratic president and a Democratic agenda. The Democrats, on the other hand, have frayed on a range of issues.
At the same time, the survey finds that an increasing number of Americans are rejecting party affiliations. But don’t mistake these voters for moderates. The growing cadre of independents hold strong ideological positions across a spectrum of topics. They tend to eschew conservative and liberal orthodoxies.
“People in the middle have some pretty strong and well- defined sense of values, and they’re a challenge both to the Democrats and to the Republicans,” Andrew Kohut, the Pew centre president and director of the survey told Bloomberg. “They have conflicted attitudes.”
The study breaks down these political differences into nine “typologies” – two Republican, three Democratic and four independent. Where do you fall in?
Who They Are: Partisan Republicans that favour conservative economic and social policies and assertive foreign policy. Most of them (72%) agree with the Tea Party and more than half regularly watch Fox News. This group - the oldest of the voter types - is 92% white and 56% male. The majority of them are married, Protestant homeowners who own guns and regularly attend church.
Political Positions: Pro-business and support limited government. Believe military strength is the best way to guarantee peace. Most say society should discourage homosexuality.
Who They Are: Socially and fiscally conservative Republicans but to a lesser degree than Staunch Republicans. This group is 88% white, with two-thirds living in the South or Midwest. The majority of Main Street Republicans are Protestants and homeowners. About half are gun owners and regular churchgoers. Nearly a quarter follow NASCAR and about half watch network evening news.
Political Positions: Highly critical of government. sceptical of business and support environmental regulation and a less assertive foreign policy. Their attitudes toward immigrants are negative and most oppose social welfare programs.
Who They Are: Predominantly white, males that are strong fiscal conservatives but relatively liberal on social issues. They voters tend to be affluent and 71% are college-educated. They are less likely than other GOP voters to go to church regularly. More than half use social networking sites, 54% have a passport, 46% own a gun and 36% trade stocks. 30-eight per cent said regularly watch Fox News and 17% regularly listen to NPR.
Political Positions: Highly critical of government and supportive of pro-business policies. Disapprove of social welfare programs and oppose to regulation. Their views on immigration are more moderate than other GOP groups.
Who They Are: The most financially stressed voter group - about half say they are 'struggling.' A full 71% say they or someone in their household have been unemployed. About three-quarters are white and two-thirds have only a high school education or less. Most doubt that the U.S. can solve its current problems. Only 41% voted in 2010.
Political Positions: Highly critical of business and government. Support social welfare programs but believe the government is wasteful and inefficient. This group is religious and socially conservative.
Who They Are: Mostly white, college-educated voters living in the suburbs of the West and the Northeast. Nearly are third are not religiously affiliated. More than half have a passport, 31% trade stocks and 63% use social networking sites. One-in-five regularly listens to NPR, 14% regularly watch The Daily Show, 10% read the New York Times. This group voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but did not turn out in 2010.
Political Positions: Generally supportive of government but conservative about racial policy and the social safety net. Strongly support regulation and environmental protection. Very liberal on social issues. favour using diplomacy over military force. Their attitudes towards immigrants are generally positive.
Who They Are: Mostly minority voters that are financially stressed. The group is made up of nearly equal proportions of whites, blacks, and Latinos. About 3-in-10 are first- or second-generation Americans and 55% have a high school education or less. Nearly a quarter are not registered to vote. These highly religious voters are generally upbeat about the country's ability to solve problems. Half are regular volunteers and more than a quarter are looking for a full-time job.
Political Positions: Generally supportive of government but divided over expanding the social safety net. Pro-immigrant. Socially conservative.
Who They Are: Largely blue-collar Democrats that are struggling financially and generally cynical about the government. This majority-female group is 53% and 35% African American. About 7-in-10 live in the South or Midwest and about 1-in-5 are unemployed. Two thirds have only a high school education or less. More than 60% watch network evening news and 44% watch CNN.
Political Positions: Critical of business and governments. See immigrants as an economic and cultural threat. Socially conservative.
Who They Are: Politically engaged voters, most of whom live in the Northeast and West. More than half are women and about half are college-educated. They are less likely than any other group to watch Fox News and most disagree with the Tea Party. About one-third regularly listen to NPR, 21% watch The Daily Show and 18% read the New York Times. Six-in-10 use social networking sites.
Political Positions: Pro-government and support regulation, environmental protection and social welfare programs. Socially liberal.
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