Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology

Key Facts from Pew Research’s Political Typology

Our latest Political Typology survey sorts American voters into cohesive groups based on their attitudes and values and provides a field guide for the constantly changing political landscape. Here are some key facts and shareable findings about these groups and their views of the nation. 

Who are the political typology groups?

Steadfast Conservatives: Generally critical of government, especially social safety net programs, but also critical of big business and immigrants. Most are very socially conservative.

Business Conservatives: Overall, critical of government regulation and social-welfare spending, but not of big business. For the most part, moderate to liberal on social issues, with positive views toward immigrants.

Young Outsiders: Tend to be distrustful of government programs and fiscally conservative, but very liberal on social issues and not very religious.

Hard-Pressed Skeptics: Generally distrustful of government, except for social safety net spending. On average, low-income, anti-immigrant compared with other groups.

Next Generation Left: Generally positive feelings about government, but less so for social programs. Tend to be business-oriented and individualistic.

Faith and Family Left: By and large, highly religious, socially conservative, but strongly support social safety net and government action more broadly.

Solid Liberals: Overall, highly supportive of social programs, immigrants and government generally; very skeptical of business and markets. Consistently liberal on social issues, from homosexuality to environmental protection.

America’s Political Spectrum

  • America’s political center is fractured into 4 groups that are as different from each other as from the left and right
  • Groups in America’s political middle are less partisan, less predictable, and less engaged in politics
  • There are three strongly partisan groups in the U.S. today – one left and two right – who make up 36% of the public
  • 10% of the public are political bystanders: a young, diverse group on the sidelines

The Parties’ Coalitions

  • “Solid Liberals” (17% of RVs) anchor the Democrats’ coalition, yet Dems must reach other groups
  • Main anchors of Republican base are “Steadfast Conservatives” and “Business Conservatives”–27% of registered voters
  • Both parties face formidable challenges in reaching beyond their bases to appeal to the middle of the electorate

The Groups in the Middle

  • “Young Outsiders” lean Republican, but diverge from GOP orthodoxy on social and other issues
  • Economically battered “Hard-Pressed Skeptics” supported Obama in 2012, but more divided today
  • “Next Generation Left” — young, affluent, liberal but skeptical about cost of social programs
  • Racially diverse “Faith and Family Left” lean heavily Democratic, but some uneasy with social change

Rifts on the Right

  • 73% of “Steadfast Conservatives” see immigrants as a burden; just 21% of “Business Conservatives” agree
  • Gap between “Business Conservatives” and “Steadfast Conservatives” on whether Wall St. helps or hurts economy
  • “Steadfast Conservatives” deeply skeptical of US global involvement; “Business Conservatives” favor an active US role

Rifts on the Left

  • Just 37% of “Faith and Family Left” support same-sex marriage, unlike “Solid Liberals” (89%)
  • “Solid Liberals” more supportive of gov’t spending for poor than “Next Generation Left”
  • 91% of “Faith and Family Left” say belief in God is necessary to be moral compared with 11% of “Solid Liberals”

Views of the Nation

  • 76% of “Steadfast Conservatives” say the U.S.’s best years are behind us compared with 49% of overall public
  • “Solid Liberals” (70%) and the “Next Generation Left” (65%) say the best is yet to come for the U.S.
  • “Steadfast Conservatives” say reliance on principles key to U.S. success; “Solid Liberals” say it’s ability to change
  • Majorities of all typology groups, especially conservative groups, express low levels of trust in government
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