Q. I just took your typology quiz and found that changing my answer to just one question — my party identification — placed me into a different group. Why does my party identification affect my group assignment?

The political typology aims to put partisan dynamics in the context of broader political values and beliefs — to recognize the importance of partisanship, but go beyond a binary “Red vs. Blue” view of the public, looking at differences both within and across the parties. Throughout the project’s history, party identification has always been a core component of the typology; it is strongly associated with political behaviors (past, present and future), and people with similar attitudes across a host of issues who seemingly differ only in their partisanship may make different political choices. Put differently, actively choosing to identify with the Republican (or Democratic) party, rather than as an independent “leaning” to that party has political meaning.

Your typology group might shift with a change in your party identification, as it might if you changed a response to any question used in the typology. This is particularly the case for people who express a combination of beliefs that either don’t fit tightly within any specific group, or might overlap with one or more groups. In effect, the statistical process is looking for where there are centers-of-gravity in the public, but there will always be many people with views that set them apart. It is particularly for these people where changing a response to a single question (including party) might make the difference in determining the assignment. Other people are more clearly a good fit with only one group, so their assignments are less likely to change with a single response change.

For more on how we determine typology group assignments, both in the survey and in responses to the quiz see “How We Identified Your Group” at people-press.org.

Michael Dimock, Associate Director, Research, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press