Feel like you don't fit in either political party? Here's why
The idea that Americans are polarized makes it seem as if there are only two sides in politics — liberal and conservative, Democratic and Republican.
But Americans are far more complicated politically, a new Pew Research Center typology shows in a study that gives a clearer picture of the full spectrum of American political views.
Americans are divided not just by party but also within them, enough so for Pew to sort Americans ideologically into nine distinct categories (one more than in its last typology four years ago, with some decidedly different contours).
Clear lines emerge when it comes to race, inequality and what the government should do about it. There are also decidedly different views on the role of government overall, economic policy, immigration, religion, the United States' standing in the world and — for Republican-leaning groups — former President Donald Trump.
What's more, despite surveys having found broad support for a third party outside the two major ones, the study shows that there's no magic middle. In fact, the study finds that the three groups with the most self-identified independents "have very little in common politically."
There are also clear implications for control of Congress. While there has been much focus on Democratic divisions between progressive and moderate wings in Congress, the study finds there are more divisions among Republican groups on the issues. But where Republicans have an advantage is having more of a sense of urgency about who is in charge in Washington. The strongest Republican groups more so than the strongest Democratic ones think next year's midterms "really matter."
The typology was created using more than 10,000 survey interviews over an 11-day period this past July. A typical national survey has about 1,000 respondents. This is the eighth typology Pew has created since 1987.
Here's an overview of Pew's nine categories (to see where you fit, you can take Pew's quiz here):
Faith and Flag Conservatives (10% of the public)
Populist Right (11%)
Ambivalent Right (12%)
Stressed Sideliners (15%)
Outsider Left (10%)
Democratic Mainstays (16%)
Establishment Liberals (13%)
Progressive Left (6%)
Republican-leaning groups largely believe government is doing too much, that everyone has the ability to succeed, obstacles that once made it harder for women and nonwhites to get ahead are now gone, white people largely don't benefit from societal advantages over Black people, that political correctness is a major problem and military might is key to keeping the U.S. a superpower.
Two-thirds also think the Republican Party should not accept elected officials who have been openly critical of Trump.
They divide, however, on economic, social and foreign policy. On economics, there are splits on whether corporations make a fair amount of profit and if taxes should be raised on the wealthy. They also don't fully agree on which is more important — oil, coal and natural gas expansion or developing alternative energy supplies.
On social issues, they diverge on whether same-sex marriage or abortion should be legal, if government policies should reflect religious beliefs and even whether they feel uncomfortable hearing people speak a language other than English in public places. There are also differences on whether election changes that make it easier to vote would make elections less secure.
On foreign affairs, some think the U.S. should take allies' interests into account; others do not.
Faith and Flag Conservatives
While Democratic-leaning groups generally agree on many issues and say that problems exist when it comes to race and economic inequality, there is an intensity gap about how much should be done about those problems and how radical the solutions should be.
Pew notes that in past typologies, it has found cracks among Democratic groups on social issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana, but those no longer exist. Instead, now the divides are about how liberal the party should be.
These Democratic-leaning groups believe in a strong federal government, one that should do more to solve problems. They also agree that the economic system unfairly favors the powerful and that taxes on big businesses and corporations should be raised, as should the minimum wage (to $15 an hour).
They feel more needs to be done to achieve racial equality, that nonwhites face at least some discrimination, that significant obstacles remain for women to get ahead and that voting is a fundamental right and should not be restricted. When it comes to major foreign policy decisions, they agree that allies should be taken into consideration.
Fissures exist with regard to U.S. military power and, to a lesser extent, social and criminal justice, as well as immigration.
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