Public Opinion On Government & Tea Party

I’m endlessly confused (and curious) about trying to understand public opinion and where it’s heading (see some of the posts on my US Data page), but it usually seems clear to me that Americans are becoming more liberal on at least social issues. Issues of the government and economy are a bit more complex. When I listen to the conservative rhetoric about fiscal conservatism, I’m left deeply confused considering how it compares to the Republican record. I really don’t see a clear connection between fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism. I’ve even argued that liberals are the new ‘fiscal conservatives’, although I don’t mean to dismiss the few fiscally responsible conservatives such as Ron Paul.

The main confusion is that the data I’ve seen shows that most Americans identify as conservative. I even think I’ve seen data showing the number of self-identified conservatives has been growing. But on many specific issues most Americans are becoming more liberal and progressive. I suppose there are many ways to make sense of this seemingly contradictory data. First, it’s not really contradictory. Labels of self-identification don’t necessarily have any relationship to the actual social and political positions people hold. Labels such as liberal and conservative are relative. Since the data shows the country moving left, it wouldn’t be surprising if most Americans were to some extent aware of this trend. So, maybe most Americans feel ‘conservative’ relative to the increasingly liberal direction the country is going in. However, compared to the conservatism of the past, most Americans today are definitely liberal.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing yet another post about this topic is because I’ve come across new data that confirms the previous data I’ve seen. Here is the new data:

http://projectvote.org/voter-poll-results

I came across this polling data from this site:

http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do;jsessionid=9F4259A9B9DBBAC1A619FD723F6ECE38?diaryId=20244

The poll looked at the 2008 voters and looked at the different demographics.

“We wanted to learn more about the views of the black, youth, and low-income voters who overwhelmingly participated in 2008 election,” said Lorraine C. Minnite, director of research for Project Vote. “These voters represent roughly a third of the electorate, they will play an increasingly important role in American politics, and they fundamentally believe in a government that does more, not less. Yet their voices are largely ignored, and their views are not being represented.”

Instead, the new report says, over the past two years the opinions and values of these populations have been drowned out by the anti-government rhetoric of more affluent, older, and mostly white Americans who have organized under the “Tea Party” banner.

“The winning coalition in 2008 included an unprecedented number of young voters, who were more racially diverse than any cohort in the history of American politics and more progressive than any young voters since the 1960s,” said Peter Levine, director of CIRCLE (Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement). “The new poll from Project Vote provides essential information about these young people’s hopes and beliefs in 2010.”

That verifies other data about the Tea Party. The average Tea Party supporter is slightly more white, older, and wealthier than the average American (and so it’s not surprising that the ). But the biggest difference is seen in the positions they advocate. Ignoring the demographic data, Tea Party supporters simply don’t represent the views of the average American.

The poll finds that the policy preferences of these three voting constituencies are far more closely aligned with the views of average Americans—represented by the poll’s national sample—than the minority views of the self-identified Tea Party sympathizers.

Most helpful from the second link is the summary of the specific views supported by majorities of black, young, and low-income voters:

  • Increasing taxes on investment income, increasing social security taxes on incomes greater than $107,000, and ending combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as a means to reduce the deficit.
  • Spending money on infrastructure, as do two-thirds of all 2008 voters.
  • Spending the same or more on income support programs such as Food Stamps for less well-off Americans. Two-thirds of Tea Party sympathizers support spending less.
  • Tea Party sympathizers, while almost universally dissatisfied with the way the country is going, report they themselves are doing very well: more than three out of four say their personal economic situation is fairly good or very good.
  • Meanwhile, one in five young voters, and nearly two out of five black voters and low-income voters, reported that there were times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy food for their families. Just over one in 20 Tea Party supporters said the same.
  • Strong majorities of black voters, young voters, and low-income voters agree that government should work to provide for the needs of all citizens. Half of all voters agreed with that sentiment, while only one in five Tea Party sympathizers agreed.
  • Together, the three “surge” groups represent a larger portion of the electorate than those who self-identify with the Tea Party.

At the same time, I came across some other data:

http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1735/political-compromise-unpopular-neither-party-favored-on-economy-four-in-ten-say-cutting-tax-cuts-for-wealthy-hurts-economy

The first thing I noticed is that mostly Republicans identify with the Tea Party. No surprise there, but what was rather telling is that most Independents identify with the Democratic Party, more than identify with the Tea Party. So, the Tea Party can’t honestly claim to be the party of Independents.

The one area that the American public leans slightly conservative is in being less supportive of compromise. This piece of data is significant in another context because it substantiates the claim that Democrats are in reality more bipartisan than Republicans (which I spoke about in a previous post: )

One of the areas where the liberal view predominates is the American public’s view on tax cuts for the rich. Most Americans state they want the tax cuts for the rich to end. This new data shows that most Americans don’t think ending the tax cuts for the rich will hurt the economy. They either think it will help or that it will have no impact at all. According to this data, Republicans are the only demographic that has a majority opinion of it hurting the economy. However, going by the various polls, even the Republicans are split on whether the tax cuts for the rich should end or not.

Old, Male, White, Religious, Rich Republicans Are Happy! Surprise, Surprise!

It’s interesting which demographics state being the happiest in the US: old, male, white, religious, rich, Republican. It makes sense. In the US, the people who fit this description have had the most privilege, power, and wealth.

Consider the comparison between Republicans and Democrats.

Why would Republicans be happier? I’m sure it partly relates to Republicans being religious. The religious demographic tends to be happy. In particular, fundamentalist and right-wing authoritarians tend to perceive themselves as happier. However, I wonder if religious conservatives are happier in the US simply because religious conservatism has been a central element of mainstream US culture. I wonder if liberal secularists would be happier if they were living in a liberal secularist society.

Why would Democrats be less happy? I’d suspect it might have to do with poor minorities and immigrants voting in higher numbers for Democrats. Those without power and wealth tend to vote Democrat and tend to live less happy lives. It sucks being a poor minority or immigrant in the US.

What is also interesting is that many more socialist countries rate higher than the US on happiness. I think this relates to wealth disparity. The lower the wealth disparity means the less social problems. The US, however, has a high wealth disparity and high rates of social problems. So, I’d suspect that the US also has a high happiness disparity.

Another interesting angle is age. Old people grew up during a time when the US had increasing wealth and there was much upward mobility. The older generation, through a few decades of Silent presidents, shifted the wealth from the young toward the older. This meant that Boomers and GenXers grew up in a time when all the programs for the youth had their funding taken away. In particular, GenX has seen the worst employment rates that any generation has seen since the Great Depression and GenX was experiencing this in the decades prior to our present economic troubles. GenXers got a bum deal. Even Millennials who were treated much better as youth are coming of age during a tough time. It sucks to be young.

It really suck to be a young minority. GenX blacks have seen prison rates worse than any demographic in all of US history. When the Silents decided to get tough on crime, they sent massive number of GenX minorities to prison.

Our country wouldn’t be the way it is if it weren’t for the policies of the white male Silents who had more presidential representation than any other group in US history. I understand that they’re happy for having had so much power and for having made the world better for themselves, but couldn’t they at least be a little bit unhappy for making the world worse off for everyone else? Oh, to be happy and oblivious to everyone else’s unhappiness. It must be nice.

As usual, it’s hard to come to any absolutely clear conclusions. I can see some complex factors.

For example, the Democrat party is much more diverse than the Republican party and so includes a wider spectrum of demographics. There are rich Democrats who are probably fairly happy, but there are also a lot of poor Democrats. Apparently, the two average out so that the Democrats overall are less happy than Republicans. Even so, I’m not sure that rich Republicans are necessarily happier than rich Democrats. Along these lines, the Democrat party includes both the highest IQ Americans and the lowest IQ Americans, but overall Democrats still have a higher average IQ than Republicans. There might not be a direct correlation between having a high IQ and being happy. It would seem, though, that there would at least be an indirect correlation in that rich people are happier and tend to have higher IQs. I’d like to know whether high IQ Republicans or high IQ Democrats are happier.

Another confusing factor is that Liberals are the high IQ demographic within the Democratic party, but 40% of liberals (as of 2005) identify as Independent rather than Democrat. Liberals are only about a third of the Democratic party. So, ignoring party affiliation, are liberals or conservatives happier? It’s possible that liberals are happier than conservatives despite the fact that Republicans are happier than Democrats. Maybe the unhappiest demographic within both parties would be the poor minorities (especially those of the younger generations) who tend to be social conservatives.

A Portrait of “Generation Next”

I was just looking at a Pew suvey.

A Portrait of “Generation Next”
How Young People View Their Lives, Futures and Politics

Most of it I was already familiar with.  This young generation (defined as those born between 1981 and 1988) are strongly liberal and the most Democratic of any generation.  They also consist of a large percentage of atheists and agnostics.  They’re moderately interested in politics, but what is interesting is their specific political attitudes.

Generation Next is less critical of government regulation of business but also less critical of business itself. And they are the most likely of any generation to support privatization of the Social Security system.

So, they apparently are for big business just as long as there is big government regulating it.  They’re fine with privatizing Social Security which is something many conservatives supported (but I’d be interested if their position on this might change as it becomes more politicized by Republicans).  Related to all of this, they’re not critical of globalization.  They think “that automation, the outsourcing of jobs, and the growing number of immigrants have helped and not hurt American workers.”

They are progressive and optimistic.  Growing up with constant technological change, they embrace change.  Going by other data, I think there two most defining moments are the 9/11 terrorist attack (fear) and the election of President Obama (hope)… from fear to hope.

– – –

Update (1/26/11) – I just came across an NPR interview where Pew data is discussed. The page on the Pew site is dated around the same time (the following month) as the above report. So, it’s probably from the same set of data, but it is a different report. I just wanted to add this because something interesting was stated in the interview. The guest mentioned that Millennials tend to identify as liberals, that they actually use that specific label to describe themselves. In being asked “What Makes Your Generation Unique?”, 7% answered that it was because their generation is liberal/tolerant. It’s unlikely that their liberalism is to change considering they are more liberal than previous generations at the same age. This is remarkable considering how unpopular the liberal label has become with most older people. Here is what it says from the report:

To be sure, Millennials remain the most likely of any generation to self-identify as liberals; they are less supportive than their elders of an assertive national security policy and more supportive of a progressive domestic social agenda. They are still more likely than any other age group to identify as Democrats. Yet by early 2010, their support for Obama and theDemocrats had receded, as evidenced both by survey data and by their low level of participation in recent off-year and special elections.

That quote confirms another observation I’ve noted from other data (in particular, Beyond Red vs Blue). Only around a 1/3 of Democrats identify as liberal and almost 1/2 of self-identified liberals consider themselves Independents. So, there might be a loosening of the past alliance between liberals and Democrats which has existed since the Civil Rights movement. However, it’s important to note that these young liberals didn’t switch from Democrat to Republican. Like many other liberals, they’ve chosen to become Independents. Still, I suspect the Democratic Party will always have an appeal to Millennials. The Democratic Party has become identified with a positive vision of government and Millennials are the only generation that has a majority agreeing that “Government should do more to solve problems”.

Demographics: Red States & Blue States

Here is a useful analysis of data:

US 50 States Map

Red States: Beneficiaries of Tax Revenue?
By Peahippo

Of the 31 states that GAIN wealth from the federal government, 25 (81%) voted for Bush. Of the remaining 17 states that LOSE wealth to the federal government, 12 (71%) voted for Kerry.

Of the 31 “gain” states, 25 (a different 81%) are “big gain” states, using the definition of obtaining $1.10 or more back in benefits for each $1.00 paid in taxes. Of those 25, Bush won 21 (84%), and Kerry 4 (16%).

Of the 17 “loss” states, 10 (59%) are “big loss” states, using the definition of obtaining $0.90 or less back in benefits for each $1.00 paid in taxes. Of those 10, Kerry won 9 (90%), and Bush 1 (10%).

One important factor about what these numbers imply is that when a candidate wins the rural vote, he tends to win the less populous states which are still large in area. These states tend to be net importers of government goods and services. One important item in this flow is highway funding. Larger states simply have more area to cross with federally-supported roads. Hence; the rural winner is likely to be backed by “gain” states.

Another important factor is that cities are sources of wealth simply by being hubs of monetary commerce, thus are likely to be the “loss” elements in the entire US government fiscal structure. Hence; the urban winner is likely to be backed by “loss” states.

(This same conclusion is stated in stronger terms at another website: http://fuckthesouth.com/)

Here it is shown more clearly:


Balance of Taxes Paid by States vs. Benefits Received from Federal Gvmt.
by “Welfare States” (dollars in millions) for the year 2001

states which
voted for Bush
Taxes sent
to Fed. Govt.
Benefits
Received
Surplus
vs.
Deficit
( + vs. – )
Alabama
22,437
33,205
+ 10,768
Alaska
4,200
6,685
+ 2,485
Arizona
30,057
32,392
+ 2,335
Arkansas
12,476
17,469
4,993
Colorado
33,898
26,618
– 7,280
Florida
110,294
107,395
– 2,899
Georgia
52,225
50,822
– 1,403
Idaho
6,683
7,977
+ 1,294
Indiana
36,733
34,630
– 2,103
Kansas
16,503
17,806
+ 1,303
Kentucky
20,509
27,210
+ 6,701
Louisiana
21,371
29,249
+ 7,878
Mississippi
12,094
21,023
+ 8,929
Missouri
33,718
41,452
+ 7,734
Montana
4,359
6,910
+ 2,551
Nebraska
10,415
11,469
+ 1,054
Nevada
15,014
10,631
– 4,383
North Carolina
47,579
47,748
+ 169
North Dakota
3,288
6,169
+ 2,881
Ohio
69,127
66,341
– 2,786
Oklahoma
16,667
23,790
+ 7,123
South Carolina
20,799
26,070
+ 5,271
South Dakota
4,293
6,095
+ 1,802
Tennessee
33,225
38,986
+ 5,761
Texas
134,809
121,571
– 13,238
Utah
11,358
12,139
+ 781
Virginia
52,858
74,802
+ 21,944
West Virginia
7,793
13,064
+ 5,271
Wyoming
3,583
3,824
+ 241
Net Welfare RECEIVED :
+ 71,868
Million $$$
by the red conservative states
which voted for Bush
states which
voted for Gore & Kerry
Taxes sent
to Fed. Govt.
Benefits
Received
Surplus
vs.
Deficit
( + vs – )
California
264,344
206,245
– 58,099
Connecticut
36,416
25,351
– 11,065
Delaware
5,750
4,632
– 1,118
Hawaii
6,903
10,185
+ 3,282
Illinois
96,686
71,520
– 25,166
Iowa
16,725
18,523
+ 1,798
Maine
6,904
8,643
+ 1,739
Maryland
41,779
50,966
+ 9,187
Massachusetts
59,779
48,188
– 11,591
Michigan
67,886
56,185
– 11,701
Minnesota
36,519
27,384
– 9,135
New Hampshire
10,315
7,006
– 3,309
New Jersey
75,115
51,657
– 23,458
New Mexico
8,487
17,156
+ 8,669
NEW YORK
166,554
126,990
– 39,564
Oregon
21,241
19,826
– 1,415
Pennsylvania
83,052
84,880
+ 1,828
Rhode Island
6,990
7,458
+ 468
Vermont
3,731
3,984
+ 253
Washington
49,651
40,233
– 9,418
Wisconsin
34,609
28,966
– 5,643
Net Welfare CONTRIBUTED :
-180,149
Million $$$
by the blue Liberal states
which voted for Democrat
Al Gore in 2000
( & John Kerry in 2004)


Several things interested me about this data.

The correlation makes a clear point about the political divide.  Why are rich Democrats so willing to give money to poor Republicans even when the latter do nothing but complain about it?  I think poor Republicans should send a thank you note to the rich Democrats.

Along with the correlation shown here, other correlations are equally interesting.  Rich Democratic states have higher education levels, lower economic disparity, lower divorce rates, greater support for civil rights (including gay rights), and on and on.  Our country was primarily founded (i.e., where the Founding Fathers lived and where the first settlements were located) in what are now Democratic states.  The Republican states didn’t even want to be a part of this country and many conservatives are still constantly threatening about secession (as if we would miss their draining away our economic wealth).

Anyways, two other issues seemed to be relevant here.

First, I’ve previously written about the Pew Typology Test and made note about the Disaffected demographic.  Basically, they’re the bigoted and uneducated rural poor, and so I assume they’re most highly concentrated in Republican states (they don’t vote much, but when they do a fairly high percentage of them vote Republican).  I suppose some of them would be attracted to the Tea Party, but they might be too cynical and disenfranchised even to protest.  They’re a very unhappy group that hates or otherwise mistrusts everyone who isn’t like them.

The main thing I wanted to point out is that they’re critical of the government and opposed to any program that helps the poor.  This seems odd since they’re poor with high unemployment rates.  Going by the above data, the Disaffecteds probably rely on government handouts more than most other demographics and the states they live in are entirely dependent on Federal funding.  Maybe they dislike the government for the very reason that they know they’re dependent on the government.  Likewise, maybe they hate liberal elites so much because their very entire lifestyle is dependent on the compassion and generosity of liberal elites.  It’s odd that they often vote Republican if and when they vote.  If Republican policies were actually implemented, the Disaffecteds would end up in even greater poverty.

What is strange is that the Disaffecteds, instead of empathizing, are especially critical of those even more poor than they are.  So, which demographic is even more poor?  According to Pew, it’s the Disadvantaged Democrats which includes high numbers of minorities.  They’re also disenchanted with government, but they believe that the government should help the poor.  It’s strange the different response to government considering that both Disaffecteds and Disadvantaged Democrats rely on government.  The former thinks the government is doing too much and the latter thinks the government isn’t doing enough.  Oddly, the Disaffecteds think that, if you got rid of all immigrants and stopped helping the poor, then all of their problems would be solved.  The Disaffecteds seem to think that the liberal elite are colluding with poor minorities to steal their jobs and control their lives, but it’s the failure of trickle down economics of the Republicans that caused their job loss and poverty (economic disparity has been overall increasing ever since the start of Reagonomics).

This brings me to my second point.  In states with high economic disparity, the poor vote Democrat (i.e., Disadvantaged Democrats) and the rich vote Republican (with the Disaffecteds partly aligning with the rich Republicans).  In states with low economic disparity, the poor and the rich both vote Democrat.  This makes me wonder why Democrats don’t win more often.  I’ve seen various research about how the poor minorities are the most disenfranchised and have low voting rates (partly because the justice system is biased and so more of them end up in prison, and I suppose there are other obstacles such as the lack of transporation).

I’d love to see how population numbers of each group relate to the actual numbes who vote in each group.  Also, I think it would help if I knew which groups tended to vote the same way.  For a quick breakdown, here is the basic population data (from this page):

  • Enterprisers: 9% of adult population, 10% of registered voters
  • Social Conservatives: 11% of adult population, 13% of registered voters
  • Pro-government Conservatives: 9% of adult population, 10% of registered voters
  • Upbeats: 11% of adult population, 13% of registered voters
  • Disaffecteds: 9% of adult population, 10% of registered voters
  • Liberals: 17% of adult population, 19% of registered voters
  • Conservative Democrats: 14% of adult population, 15% of registered voters
  • Disadvantaged Democrats: 10% of adult population, 10% of registered voters
  • Bystanders: 10% of adult population, 0% of registered voters

These categorizations seem to show that no particular political ideology is more disenfranchised than any other.  The Bystanders demographic is merely the catch-all category for those who either stopped caring or never did care (interestingly are no more prone towards Republican or Democrat), and they apparently they are fairly disenfranchised from organized religion as well (second only to Liberals in their lack of religiosity).

What I do notice is that Liberals are the largest by far of any group in terms of both adult population and registered voters.  The second largest are the Conservative Democrats.  Together, those two groups almost a third of the adult population and more than a third of the registered voters.

Looking at the actual opinions, many of the groups that aren’t specifically liberal support certain liberal policies and values.  Social Conservatives are cynical of business and moderately support environmental protection and other regulation.  Pro-government Conservatives don’t trust the marketplace and so support government regulation and social safety nets.  Upbeats are fairly Republican and yet have positive views of immigrants.  Only Enterprisers and Disaffecteds are apparently conservative on all issues (the odd alliance between rich business owners and the unemployed/underemployed poor which seems to be the bedrock of the conservative movement).  Furthermore, Conservative Democrats represent a large percentage of Democrats and so that disproves the argument that the Democratics are radical socialists/communists (Conservative Democrats identify by far more as Democrats than do Liberals).

It’s hard to know if these 2005 statistics still apply to present demographics, but there is an odd conclusion that can be made.  During the Bush administration, Republicans did seem to represent the largest demographic.  The Republican party has decreased in number, but I’m not sure what that says about the actual beliefs of the public.  More recent data shows the majority of the population leans towards moderate positions on Progressive values.  Even in this 2005 data, many of these Republicans hold values that aren’t what many people think of as conservative.  Americans, including conservatives, aren’t necessarily against big government and many are for government regulation and assistance.  And yet, in past decades, a few social wedge issues have being wielded successfully by the Republican party to sway voters towards the GOP.

Now, I’ll list some of the other specific demographic data:

  • Enterprisers:

WHO THEY ARE: Predominantly white (91%), male (76%) and financially well-off (62% have household incomes of at least $50,000, compared with 40% nationwide). Nearly half (46%) have a college degree, and 77% are married. Nearly a quarter (23%) are themselves military veterans. Only 10% are under age 30.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: 59% have a gun in the home; 53% trade stocks and bonds, and 30% are small business owners ­ all of which are the highest percentages among typology groups. 48% attend church weekly; 36% attend bible study or prayer group meetings.

  • Social Conservatives:

WHO THEY ARE: Predominantly white (91%), female (58%) and the oldest of all groups (average age is 52; 47% are 50 or older); nearly half live in the South. Most (53%) attend church weekly; 43% are white evangelical Protestants (double the national average of 21%).

LIFESTYLE NOTES: 56% have a gun in their home, and 51% attend Bible study groups.

  • Pro-government Conservatives:

WHO THEY ARE: Predominately female (62%) and relatively young; highest percentage of minority members of any Republican-leaning group (10% black, 12% Hispanic). Most (59%) have no more than a high school diploma. Poorer than other Republican groups; nearly half (49%) have household incomes of less than $30,000 (about on par with Disadvantaged Democrats). Nearly half (47%) are parents of children living at home; 42% live in the South.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: Most (52%) attend religious services at least weekly; nearly all describe religion as “very important” in their lives. Gun ownership is lower (36%) than in other GOP groups. Just 14% trade stocks and bonds in the market; 39% say someone in their home has faced unemployment in the past year.

  • Upbeats:

WHO THEY ARE: Relatively young (26% are under 30) and well-educated, Upbeats are among the wealthiest typology groups (39% have household incomes of $75,000 or more). The highest proportion of Catholics (30%) and white mainline Protestants (28%) of all groups, although fewer than half (46%) attend church weekly. Mostly white (87%), suburban, and married, they are evenly split between men and women.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: High rate of stock ownership (42%, 2nd after Enterprisers).

  • Disaffected:

WHO THEY ARE: Less educated (70% have attended no college, compared with 49% nationwide) and predominantly male (57%). While a majority (60%) leans Republican, three-in-ten are strict independents, triple the national rate. Disaffecteds live in all parts of the country, though somewhat more are from rural and suburban areas than urban.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: Somewhat higher percentages than the national average have a gun in the home, and report that someone in their house has been unemployed in the past year.

  • Liberals:

WHO THEY ARE: Most (62%) identify themselves as liberal. Predominantly white (83%), most highly educated group (49% have a college degree or more), and youngest group after Bystanders. Least religious group in typology: 43% report they seldom or never attend religious services; nearly a quarter (22%) are seculars. More than one-third never married (36%). Largest group residing in urban areas (42%) and in the western half the country (34%). Wealthiest Democratic group (41% earn at least $75,000).

LIFESTYLE NOTES: Largest group to have been born (or whose parents were born) outside of the U.S. or Canada (20%). Least likely to have a gun in the home (23%) or attend bible study or prayer group meetings (13%).

  • Conservative Democrats:

WHO THEY ARE: Older women and blacks make up a sizeable proportion of this group (27% and 30%, respectively). Somewhat less educated and poorer than the nation overall. Allegiance to the Democratic party is quite strong (51% describe themselves as “strong” Democrats) but fully 85% describe themselves as either conservative or moderate ideologically.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: 46% attend church at least once a week, 44% attend Bible study or prayer group meetings, a third (34%) have a gun in their house.

  • Disadvantaged Democrats:

WHO THEY ARE: Low average incomes (32% below $20,000 in household income); most (77%) often can’t make ends meet. Six-in-ten are female. Three-in-ten (32%) are black and 14% are Hispanic. Not very well educated, 67% have at most a high-school degree. Nearly half (47%) are parents of children living at home.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: Nearly a quarter (23%) report someone in their household is a member of a labor union, and 58% report that they or someone in the home has been unemployed in the past year­ both far larger proportions than in any other group. Only 27% have a gun in the home

  • Bystanders:

WHO THEY ARE: Young (39% are under age 30, average age is 37). Lowest education (24% have not finished high school). Less religious than any group other than Liberals (26% attend church weekly). Largely concentrated in the South and West, relatively few in the East and Midwest. One-in-five are Hispanic.

LIFESTYLE NOTES: About half (49%) say they often can’t make ends meet, fewer than among Pro-Government Conservatives, Disadvantaged Democrats or Disaffecteds; 30% attend bible groups or prayer meetings; 30% own a gun.

This does show some of the demographic dividing lines.  It’s amazing how much the Republican party is dominated by whites.  It’s also quite telling that the groups with the most conservative values are dominated by males.  It’s not exactly surprising.  White males are more highly represented as business owners and in the upper socio-economic classes, and so of course they’ll vote for their own interests.  However, that doesn’t explain why some groups such as the Disaffecteds vote against their own interests.  I thought it funny that Enterprisers (who are the prototypical rich white male conservatives) are the most avid watchers of Fox News (in fact, it’s their primary source of news).

There is so much ideological posturing and the media loves to portray everything in black and white terms.  It’s hard to determine what people actually believe.  It seems to me that liberalism is fairly moderate and mainstream.  Many liberal values and policies are supported by a majority of Americans, and the Democratic party represents the widest range of the American demographic.

If this is so, why do conservatives complain so much about radical liberalism?  Also, the weatlhiest states are Democratic and the most educated people are liberal… so, why doesn’t liberalism have more power than it seems to have?   Why can’t President Obama who campaigned on Progressive ideals, who was voted into office by a majority of voters, and has a majority support in Washington, why, why, why can’t even moderately liberal bills get passed?  Most Americans want health care reform with public option and the President who they voted for wants it (heck, even most doctors want it)… but apparently the minority of conservatives have enough power to block even the most popular of bills.

Pew Political Typology Test

I just took a political typology test designed by the Pew Research Center.  I could’ve answered some of the questions quite differently depending on interpretation which would’ve given me different results.

In response to question 25, I agreed (but not strongly) that “I worry the government is getting too involved in the issue of morality”.  My actual worry is that the debate about morality is defined and controlled by a narrow special interest group (the moral minority).  To me, issues of morality include issues of war, civil rights, poverty, health care, workers unions, regulatory agencies, and environmentalism.  Actually, I consider all of politics a moral issue and so if anything I worry that the government has become disconnected from any authentic moral sense.  In an idealistic world where the very concept of ‘morality’ wasn’t warped to the extreme right, I’d have instead agreed strongly with “The government should do more to protect morality in society”.

My test answers gave me the result of Liberal, but the test was rather general.  My liberal sensibilities were emphasized in my answers because I just spent the last day reading about conservative/corporate media bias.  I’m rather mixed up in my beliefs.  I’m libertarian in mistrusting the government, but I’m liberal in that I trust the government more than I trust big business.  I believe the government has potential for good if big business is kept out of it.  And I believe capitalism has potential for good if the government can fairly regulate.  But I’m too cynical to actually believe much good will come of any of it.  So, I’m a rather disgruntled liberal who feels equally (or maybe more) disgruntled about the even more disgruntled far right (which apparently would be labelled as Disaffected).

The Disaffecteds are so cynical that they end up voting against their own self-interests.  They’re poor and they love to complain about poverty (especially of the even more poverty-stricken minorities and immigrants), but they mistrust everyone who isn’t like them including the government and it’s programs to help the poor.  So, they wallow in their poverty and whine about the failure of the government.  They’re mostly uneducated, rural Republicans who have no interest in politics beyond how they perceive it might influence their employment.  They’re against immigrants and environmentlaism simply because they believe they will take away their jobs.

Compared to the Disaffecteds, I’m a rather optimistic Liberal.  I’m proud to be a Liberal.  According to the results, Liberals are the most highly educated of any political type.  Also: “Liberals are second only to Enterprisers in following news about government and public affairs most of the time (60%). Liberals’ use of the internet to get news is the highest among all groups (37%).”  Since I live in a town that is the most highly educated per capita in the US, it’s highly likely that I’m surrounded by Liberals.  If we could only make everyone one in America highly educated, then this would be a truly liberal country.

LIBERALS

PAST TYPOLOGY COUNTERPART: Liberal Democrats/Seculars/60’s Democrats

17% OF GENERAL POPULATION

19% OF REGISTERED VOTERS

PARTY ID: 59% Democrat; 40% Independent/No Preference, 1% Republican (92% Dem/Lean Dem)

BASIC DESCRIPTION: This group has nearly doubled in proportion since 1999. Liberal Democrats now comprise the largest share of Democrats. They are the most opposed to an assertive foreign policy, the most secular, and take the most liberal views on social issues such as homosexuality, abortion, and censorship. They differ from other Democratic groups in that they are strongly pro-environment and pro-immigration.

DEFINING VALUES: Strongest preference for diplomacy over use of military force. Pro-choice, supportive of gay marriage and strongly favor environmental protection. Low participation in religious activities. Most sympathetic of any group to immigrants as well as labor unions, and most opposed to the anti-terrorism Patriot Act.

Key Beliefs: GeneralPopulation Liberals
Relying too much on military force to defeat terrorism creates hatred that leads to more terrorism 51% 90%
I worry the government is getting too involved in the issue of morality 51% 88%
Stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost 60% 89%
Poor people have hard lives because government benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently 52% 80%

WHO THEY ARE: Most (62%) identify themselves as liberal. Predominantly white (83%), most highly educated group (49% have a college degree or more), and youngest group after Bystanders. Least religious group in typology: 43% report they seldom or never attend religious services; nearly a quarter (22%) are seculars. More than one-third never married (36%). Largest group residing in urban areas (42%) and in the western half the country (34%). Wealthiest Democratic group (41% earn at least $75,000).

LIFESTYLE NOTES: Largest group to have been born (or whose parents were born) outside of the U.S. or Canada (20%). Least likely to have a gun in the home (23%) or attend bible study or prayer group meetings (13%).

2004 ELECTION: Bush 2%, Kerry 81%

MEDIA USE: Liberals are second only to Enterprisers in following news about government and public affairs most of the time (60%). Liberals’ use of the internet to get news is the highest among all groups (37%).