Beyond Red and Blue, Republican and Democrat
May 11, 2005 10:02 PM   Subscribe

Understanding elections beyond the red and blue axis. Since 1987, the Pew Research center has been conducting a political survey that divides voters into various typologies based on core beliefs-- upbeats and disaffected, enterprisers and bystanders -- and tracking political opinions and votes. The biggest trends have been the rise of disadvantaged pro-government conservatives and the shift of the middle to the right. Fortunately, there is a survey that will determine your type. Where does the typical MeFi visitor fit? (Hint from the typology: "Liberals- Affluent and highly secular...ideologically consistent on social issues, foreign policy and the role of government..nearly four-in-10 cite the Internet as their main source of news.")
posted by blahblahblah (41 comments total)
Immigrants today strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents --OR-- Immigrants today are a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing and health care

When did you last beat your wife?

Seriously, what if you think that immigrants do both? Still seems like mistaking greys for black and whites to me, again. Of course any attempt to classify peoples positions will be simplistic, but every question forces you to make decisions that are not really opposite. The poor question is even worse. Either poor people have an easy life of government help, or have a terrible life because the government doesn't do enough? That survey is painful to read.
posted by litghost at 11:00 PM on May 11, 2005

Make that black and whites for greys, dur.
posted by litghost at 11:05 PM on May 11, 2005

These axes are evil.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:18 PM on May 11, 2005

litghost: i agree some of the choices there were faustian in nature. Of course the only thing to keep in mind (as i told a colleague when we complained about the lack of distinction of social liberals and fiscal liberals and so on, is that depending on the previous data and other studies, much of these things tend to collapse into larger groups. so while there may be no category for 'fiscal liberals' (whatever that might mean) if that sub group effectively collapses into 'liberals' then unless you are choosing to analyze the sub categories alone then asking questions to root them out is moot. It looks like the granularity of the study isn't interested in that level of detail. and the questions reflect that.

Its also possible that the questions are built based on data with more detail and boiled down as an 'average' of the comments in order to sort into the primary groups. That is to say, as a gross example, if all but a statistically insignificant amount of social conservatives claim to be against topic X. Then asking about ones feelings on topic X is a primary indicator if one is in that group. And this works just as well for mass consumption. Not so much for actual statistical analysis.
posted by MrLint at 11:19 PM on May 11, 2005

So, I told it I was liberal and then it told me I was liberal.
I stand in awe of the power of the internet.
posted by cccorlew at 11:21 PM on May 11, 2005

I like how this tries to make it sounds like it's a hip new way of classifying people's political views when it's really just rehashing the same old tired bullshit.
posted by angry modem at 11:27 PM on May 11, 2005

I should point out that the internet survey is limited to a much smaller subset of questions than the real survey. The full version's methodology was more involved, and was based on statistical clustering of answers. Thus "liberal" has a specific meaning in this survey, as opposed to other Democrat-leaning groups like Conservative Democrats. Even if you don't like your survey results, reading the main article on changes among various group affiliations is illuminating.
posted by blahblahblah at 11:32 PM on May 11, 2005

some of the choices there were faustian in nature

I don't think they were, really.
posted by freebird at 11:34 PM on May 11, 2005

Woo hoo... I'm upbeat. That's actually a pretty fair description of how I feel. Color me surprised.
posted by sbutler at 11:37 PM on May 11, 2005

angry modem is right, this is "values and lifestyles" retasked rehashed and spat out. Consume Your Politics.

>Where does the typical MeFi visitor fit?

You mean, "Where does the typical U.S. MeFi visitor fit?"
posted by gsb at 11:47 PM on May 11, 2005

I'm an upbeat, too. Love and kisses and unicorns for everyone!
posted by Asparagirl at 1:25 AM on May 12, 2005

On the red/blue tip - remember its not always black and white, so to speak.

Purple Map - BoingBoing 2004
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:56 AM on May 12, 2005

Dang! I'm a liberal. I must have been indoctrinated while I wasn't looking.

i feel violated
posted by recurve at 2:28 AM on May 12, 2005

There's litghost's point, and also the fact that so many of these Qs lack parity. The inference across the column seems to be the contrapositive, but the wording changes.

"Government regulation of business is necessary to protect the public interest --OR-- Government regulation of business usually does more harm than good"

I'm no inferential master, but give me a break, that's crap. Oh, and it determined that I am a "Flip-flopper".
posted by Jack Karaoke at 2:50 AM on May 12, 2005

Most of the questions are false dichotomies; they tend to represent the limited world views of the test maker, not the test taker.
posted by Osmanthus at 4:10 AM on May 12, 2005

i feel violated

Then why do you have that silly grin on your face?
posted by Doohickie at 4:11 AM on May 12, 2005

posted by Eideteker at 4:32 AM on May 12, 2005

This advances the whole bi-polar view of American politics. Yawn.
posted by moonbird at 5:01 AM on May 12, 2005

Internet surveys remind me of how self-involved I am. I did the survey and then got bored reading the article.
posted by elderling at 6:18 AM on May 12, 2005

"Upbeat" for me, though I got the sense I was being stuck in a "none of the above" default category. I didn't recognize much of myself in the Upbeat description except for my strong pro-immigration views. I think there's a fallacy in taking the information that I have a reasonably comfortable personal financial situation and trying to infer my politics from that.

I did find the following interesting from the article, though, which tends to go against some of the convential wisdom about a split in the Republican's base:
While Enterprisers are defined mostly by their pro-business, anti-government and anti-regulatory beliefs rather than their religious or moral conservatism, they nevertheless agree fully with Social Conservatives and Pro-Government Conservatives when it comes to issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research....

While agreeing with the conservative position on most key issues, Enterprisers are distinguished from other Republican-leaning groups by their relative lack of intensity with respect to individual or social moral beliefs....

Overall, divisions over social and religious issues continue to be far more intense on the left than on the right. Conservative Democrats ­ who represent 14% of the general public and a quarter of John Kerry's voting base in 2004 ­ tend to agree with Republican groups more than other Democratic groups when it comes to key social issues such as gay marriage and abortion.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:34 AM on May 12, 2005

I'm an Upbeat ENFP Gemini PC Emacs user. Or I was last time I checked.
posted by Turtle at 7:08 AM on May 12, 2005

Most of the questions are false dichotomies

They're not intended to be "Here are the alternatives, now choose!" The reason they're phrased or paired awkwardly is so that both sides are phrased positively -- in the full protocol, it might look something like:

Some people feel that immigrants today strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents, but others feel that immigrants today are a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing and health care. Which comes closer to your point of view?

The idea (IIRC) is that having an embedded prompt on each side can help to (re)activate whatever opinions they might have, so you can get more useful reporting and fewer "Don't know" "Haven't thought about that" responses; it also taps into different cognitive processes than other types of questions and can be useful in that regard.

They'd also have a battery of questions that offer a one-sided statement for you to agree or disagree with; some of the question-sides here look like those to me but I'm really only familiar with the analogous questions in the NES. The sorts of typologies and indices that you see described would then usually be put together with some factor-analytic scheme out of a whole bunch of answers.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:11 AM on May 12, 2005

What a loser survey! :-)

Wanna know if you qualify to attend a Dubya Clown Hall meeting?

Then take a real survey!

You may already be qualified for a free bush fish sticker!
posted by nofundy at 8:03 AM on May 12, 2005

They should ask more questions regarding economics and fiscal policy. It's like the giant budget deficit and debt from hell ($26,000 for every man, woman and child, and rising) don't really matter to anyone.
posted by raysmj at 8:03 AM on May 12, 2005

This doesn't represent me either: they don't have questions leading to a diagnosis of "anarcho-communist". It assumes that "anti-government" is synonymous with a right- wing capitalist orientation, and that left-wingers are even more strongly statist. I.e., ParisParamus is more capable of nuance than that questionnaire.
posted by davy at 8:09 AM on May 12, 2005

big surprise--I'm a liberal. The statements sucked also.

We have to get more Bystanders involved in the process. (Except one party prefers to make voting difficult if not impossible, including registration, and owns the machines and can fix elections--not things that tend to expand the voter pool.)
posted by amberglow at 8:33 AM on May 12, 2005

nofundy: according to your test, I'm apparently 1 % republican. I feel dirty.
posted by mr.marx at 8:57 AM on May 12, 2005

Does it impress you that this poll is not polar? That is, on one side it says "Do you believe in 1, 2, and 3?", and on the other it says "Do you not believe in 1 and 2?"

I think that most people have a grasp of when a poll isn't being honest, yet still answer its questions with the "just following orders" psychology.

Perhaps the questions should be openly extremist, black and white type questions. Then you could totally agree or disagree, or partially agree or disagree. For example: "All abortion should be outlawed" vs. "All abortion should be legal".

I suspect that you would get some really strange and maybe unnerving results from some seldom-asked questions, like "There should be no corporal punishment (whipping) of convicted criminals" vs. "It should be legal to have corporal punishment (whipping) of convicted criminals".

My predictions from this kind of polling would be: the public wants less freedom of speech; more gun control; open abuse of prisoners; some degree of publicly-sponsored racism, such as profiling; fewer drug laws; much higher corporate taxes; more isolationism across the board, to include the war and trade; lower taxes; strong restrictions to immigration; and more legal abortion.

In other words, the public would support issues on both the right and the left, but further than the right or the left are willing to take them right now.

It would be an interesting exercise.
posted by kablam at 9:06 AM on May 12, 2005

Allow me coach you a little in how to get yourself admitted to a Dubya Clown Hall meeting Mr. Marx.

When the query starts with "A woman's place" then the correct answer is "towering over me with her spike heels digging cruelly into my bleeding back."
Follow that lead and you'll get 105% next time!
Gotta remember IOKIYAR!!
posted by nofundy at 9:27 AM on May 12, 2005

ooooooooooooooooh a quiz!
posted by delmoi at 10:44 AM on May 12, 2005

it says I'm a "Liberal". huh.
posted by delmoi at 10:57 AM on May 12, 2005

Liberals and Enterprisers use media more?

I've always thought conservatives weren't reading and surfing enough... it's an education problem.

What we need is a significant overhaul of public education... something that will raise the level of dialogue in this country and leave no one behind...
posted by ewkpates at 11:30 AM on May 12, 2005

Turtle: As a fellow emacs user, I cannot help but see parallels between the red vs. blue "debate" and the emacs vs. vi "debate." The first and biggest seems to be the phenomenon of converting a convenient label for a set of characteristics into what amounts to a "team." Both emacs and vi have strengths and weaknesses, but the opposing "teams" focus on each other's weaknesses and exhibit fanatical zeal for the strengths of their "team." No one seems to notice that both teams often actually want to do the same damn things using different implementations.
posted by elderling at 12:32 PM on May 12, 2005

they nevertheless agree fully with Social Conservatives and Pro-Government Conservatives when it comes to issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research

when you've got bank, laws are for the little people. Need an abortion? Fly first class to Paris or wherever. Gay Marriage? Have your accountants and lawyers set it up. Stem cell research? Mostly puff & bluff by the Bushiviks so far.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:35 PM on May 12, 2005

Must agree about the choices. I was particularly exerted by this one:
Government is almost always wasteful and inefficient VS. Government often does a better job than people give it credit for
Having a considerable experience in government makes me strongly agree with both premises...
posted by Skeptic at 3:51 PM on May 12, 2005

I'M a liberal? AH HA HA HA HA! Where's my gun?
posted by Smedleyman at 4:33 PM on May 12, 2005

It said I'm a liberal, too. Hear that you damn commies and fascists! Liberal!
posted by jonmc at 6:33 PM on May 12, 2005

Ewkpates, I think the choice in media is telling...or not:

From PEW Research link:
Enterprisers follow news about government and politics more closely than any other group, and exhibit the most knowledge about world affairs. The Fox News Channel is their primary source of news (46% cite it as a main source) followed by newspapers (42%) radio (31%) and the internet (26%).

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%).

posted by nathanos at 10:01 PM on May 12, 2005

"Based on your answers to the questionnaire, you most closely resemble survey respondents within the Enterpriser typology group."

posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:19 AM on May 13, 2005

Hey, all you Upbeats, can I borrow some cash?
posted by CrunchyGods at 7:23 AM on May 13, 2005

It's so funny/sad that Pew is now using a form of demographic marketing terms in a way for this, especially since we have endless "campaigns" for everything from Social Security "reform" to filibusters.
posted by amberglow at 7:48 AM on May 13, 2005

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