The Pew Research Center’s June 12 report on political polarization in America found that the right and left have very different ideas about aspects of life beyond day-to day politics, such as the ideal features of a community and the types of people they would welcome into their families.
The typology study also demonstrates wide ideological differences in feelings of patriotism, views about the country’s future, religious beliefs and practices, and even leisure activities and daily habits. The typology groups also vary widely by demographics. (See the detailed demographics table at the end of this section.)
Feelings of pride in being American – and a belief that honor and duty are core values – are much more widespread among the two conservative groups than the other typology groups.
Overall, 81% of Business Conservatives and 72% of Steadfast Conservatives say the phrase “often feel proud to be American” describes them well. These are by far the highest percentages across typology groups. Smaller majorities of the Faith and Family Left (59%), Next Generation Left (56%) and Young Outsiders (56%) say they often feel a sense of pride in being American.
However, Hard-Pressed Skeptics are divided – about as many say they often feel pride in being American (51%) as do not (49%). And just 40% of Solid Liberals say they often feel pride in being American; 60% say that characterization does not fit them well.
In addition to high levels of patriotism, the groups on the right also are most likely to say they have a sense of honor and duty. About seven-in-ten Business Conservatives (70%) and Steadfast Conservatives (68%) say the phrase “honor and duty are my core values” fits them. Far fewer in the other typology groups, including just 40% of Solid Liberals, say this description applies well to them.
Overall, 65% of the public say they think of themselves as a “typical American,” and this self-description is shared widely across each of the typology groups, again with the exception of Solid Liberals. About half of Solid Liberals (51%) say they think of themselves as a typical American while about as many (49%) do not.
Most Describe Themselves as Compassionate, Trusting
A large majority of Americans (74%) say the phrase “compassion and helping others are my core values” describes them well. This description is embraced by majorities across all typology groups, though Solid Liberals (82%) are the most likely to say it applies to them.
Most Americans (65%) also view themselves as trusting. The proportion saying this ranges from 57% (among Steadfast Conservatives) to 70% (among Hard-Pressed Skeptics).
There are greater differences in people’s perception of whether they are religious and spiritual. Overall, 46% say they are “religious,” while slightly more (52%) say they are “spiritual.”
As might be expected, the highly religious typology groups – Steadfast Conservatives, Business Conservatives and the Faith and Family Left – are most likely to say both of these descriptions apply to them.
In general, there is little difference between the percentage of people who see themselves as religious and those who say they are spiritual. For example, 64% of Business Conservatives say they are religious; about as many say they are spiritual (66%).
However, among Solid Liberals, more call themselves spiritual (42%) than say they are religious (27%). Among the Next Generation Left, more also describe themselves as spiritual (43%) than religious (32%).
The typology groups also express somewhat different attitudes about the future, reflecting, in part, their political beliefs and financial circumstances.
Most Americans (59%) say they are generally upbeat and optimistic, but this is not a majority view across all typology groups. Only about half of the Hard-Pressed Skeptics (48%) and the Faith and Family Left (50%) – who have the lowest family incomes of the typology groups – say the phrase “upbeat and optimistic” describes them well.
Steadfast Conservatives, who are much better off financially than these two groups, also are relatively gloomy: 51% describe themselves as upbeat and optimistic. A positive outlook is most prevalent among the affluent Business Conservatives (68%) and the Next Generation Left (70%). Most Solid Liberals (64%) and Young Outsiders (61%) also describe themselves as upbeat and optimistic.
Religious Affiliation and Practice
Steadfast Conservatives are one of the most religious groups in the typology. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) identify as Protestant, a much higher share than among the public overall (49%). And the share of Steadfast Conservatives who are white evangelical Protestants (43%) is more than twice as large as in the public generally (18%).
The Democratic-leaning Faith and Family Left are as likely as Steadfast Conservatives to be affiliated with a religion (just 7% are unaffiliated), but fewer are white evangelical Protestants and somewhat more identify as Catholic.
Solid Liberals are the least religious group – 41% are not affiliated with a religion; 10% describe themselves as atheists, 9% say they are agnostic and 22% say they are “nothing in particular.”
Most Steadfast Conservatives regularly attend religious services. Overall, 55% say they attend weekly or more. The Faith and Family Left are nearly as likely to go to religious services at least once a week (51%).
Many Business Conservatives also regularly attend services: 47% go at least once a week, compared with 35% of the public as a whole.
Only about two-in-ten of the Next Generation Left (21%) and Solid Liberals (19%) go to religious services weekly, making them the two typology groups least likely to be regular attenders.
Who Feels Financially Stressed, Who Has Money in the Market?
The financial challenges facing the Hard-Pressed Skeptics, who have the lowest family incomes of the main typology groups, are shown by the large majority (67%) who say: “I often don’t have enough money to make ends meet.” That is by far the highest percentage of any typology group; even among the young struggling Bystanders, fewer (56%) say they routinely face financial shortfalls.
Notably, typology groups on both the right and left feel relatively comfortable financially. Nearly eight-in-ten Business Conservatives (77%) and 64% of Steadfast Conservatives, as well as large majorities of the Next Generation Left (70%) and Solid Liberals (69%), say “paying the bills is generally not a problem for me.
Hard-Pressed Skeptics face even greater financial challenges than the Faith and Family Left, but they are both equally unlikely to be stock market participants. Overall, 73% of the Faith and Family Left report having no money in the stock market, nearly identical to the 75% of Hard-Pressed Skeptics who are not in the market.
Slightly more than half of Solid Liberals (55%), Young Outsiders (54%) and the Next Generation Left (52%) say they have at least some long-term investments in the stock market.
Business Conservatives (68%) are the most likely to have money in the market, but even among Business Conservatives, just 6% say they regularly trade stocks and other funds.
A majority of Americans (57%) say the phrase “outdoor person” describes them well, and this is true across six of the seven major typology groups; Solid Liberals (44%) are less likely than the other groups to say this description fits them well. And just 12% of Solid Liberals say the phrase “hunter, fisher or sportsman” describes them well. That also is the lowest percentage among typology groups.
On the other hand, while 53% of Solid Liberals say they are focused on health and fitness, only about a third of Steadfast Conservatives (34%) are focused on health and fitness.
Interest in sports and video games also differs across typology groups. Business Conservatives (44%) and Young Outsiders (41%) are more likely than Hard-Pressed Skeptics (30%) or Solid Liberals (32%) to say they are sports fans. And Steadfast Conservatives – the oldest of the typology groups – are less likely than those in almost all of the other groups to say the phrase “computer and video gamer” describes them
There also are wide differences across typology groups in reported gun ownership: About half in each of the two conservative groups say they have a gun, rifle or pistol in their homes (52% of Steadfast Conservatives, 50% of Business Conservatives).
Gun ownership also is relatively common among the Young Outsiders, who express liberal views on many social issues, but are supporters of gun rights (See Section 2). About four-in-ten (41%) Young Outsiders have a gun in their homes.
Only about a quarter of the Faith and Family Left (26%) and Solid Liberals (24%) have guns in their homes – roughly half the share of the two conservative groups.
Use of Public Transportation; Recycling and Reusing
Most Americans (78%) say that in a typical month, they never use public transportation; 11% say they use it at least once a week, while 10% say they use it once or twice a month.
Public transportation use is higher on the left than right. About a third (32%) of Solid Liberals say they use public transportation at least once or twice a month, including 19% who use it at least once a week.
By contrast, 92% of Steadfast Conservatives say they never use public transportation in a typical month.
Nearly half of Americans (49%) say the phrase “recycle and reuse as a daily habit” describes them well; about as many (51%) say this does not describe them.
Solid Liberals are the most likely to describe recycling and reuse as part of their daily habits, seven-in-ten (70%) do this, along with 58% of the Next Generation Left.
Recycling is practiced less across most of the other typology groups. Only about four-in-ten Steadfast Conservatives (39%), Hard-Pressed Skeptics (39%) and the Faith and Family Left (42%) say they “recycle and reuse as a daily habit.”