Pew Typologies, part 3

After taking a closer look at the Pew Typology report, a few additional thoughts:

(See previous posts and comments here and here.)


The Online Quiz: While the original fine-grained survey was used to identify these political typologies, the online quiz is not an information-gathering device. It’s really just designed to suggest where you’d fit into the categories they’ve already come up with. It’s really just a way to draw you in to the study. And it seems to have worked: two of you were surprised to find that you’re Post-Moderns (I’ll get to this later) and another was surprised to be classified as so liberal (still wondering exactly what category Ian fell under).

This difference in intent is why the online quiz so brief (only 20 statement pairs to measure nine dimensions in the original survey). This is also why it provides pairs of statements, no sliding scales (always/sometimes/never), and no way to weight options (strongly agree/agree/disagree/strongly disagree). All of these are present in the actual survey used to identify the typologies.You can find the details of the detailed poll here (pdf). In short, Ian, you’re definitely right about the shortcomings of the online quiz and it’s loaded language/false choices.


The Full Report (available here as a pdf): A few highlights:

On page 21, Post-Moderns are describe thus: “A group of independently-minded Post-Moderns, who have voted overwhelmingly Democratic in the past two elections, are the youngest of all the typology groups. This mostly secular group agrees with Solid Liberals on social issues, immigration and the environment, but is not engaged with the traditional liberal rallying cries of the New Deal or Great Society. Instead, this group tends to be more supportive of Wall Street and business interests, and skeptical of broad-based social justice programs aimed at helping African-Americans and the poor.” I’d say that at least roughly fits both of you who tested as such. I’m not sure whether it quite captures your view of “Wall Street and business interests,” but I think it’s interesting in light of the fact that you’re both basically self-employed entrepreneurs. Also, in comparison, it makes me seem old and/or stuck in the political past.

The chart on page 24 nicely illustrates what happened in 2010 compared to 2008: the impact of a slight shift to the right and increased turnout of groups already aligned with the Republican Party was compounded by lower turnout by Democratically aligned groups.

Page 25-26 lays out the nine dimensions on which the study measured respondents in order to develop the typologies: government performance, religion and morality, business, environmentalism, immigration, race, social safety net, foreign policy assertiveness, and financial security.

Section 2: Value Divides Within Party Coalitions (pp. 27-35) really highlights the significance/usefulness of such studies. By identifying and analyzing the various components of the party coalitions, Pew provides a much more complex picture of each party’s internal struggle for cohesion and a clear set of policy proscriptions. It wasn’t that many years ago when the conventional wisdom held that the Republicans were basically a unified whole (with economic and social halves cooperating nicely) and Democrats were a squabbling big tent. As someone who has always found theĀ  divisions with the former party more interesting, I’ll have to spend some more time going over Pew’s findings.

While 68% of Hard-Pressed Dems said “government is almost always wasteful and inefficient,” 53% said they would rather have a bigger government providing more services” (p. 51). 73% also report trusting government in Washington “only some of the time/Never.” I suspect that all the Republican bashing of government isn’t going to peel away this group, which already agrees but still prefers inefficient government services to none at all.

A chart on p. 62 breaks down the candidate preferences of the four Republican-leaning typological groups. Biggest surprise: Romney’s support among libertarians. I’m not sure how they square that with his Massachusetts health care plan. I wonder whether his continued defense of the plan will erode that support or if his anti-“Obamacare” rhetoric will be sufficient to keep their loyalty. If he can, that’ll be a big (perhaps hidden) boost to his candidacy.

There’s plenty more there if you want to take a look (here), but this post is already long enough, don’t you think?

2 Responses to Pew Typologies, part 3
  1. Tony
    June 8, 2011 | 5:35 am

    Well, it does have a bit to do with my being self-employed… but I think it has more to do with how I’ve seen things (don’t) work in public service, at least in terms of (some) public schools.

    • Jason
      June 8, 2011 | 7:48 am

      Yes, I think the Post-Modern category definitely includes a general skepticism about big government programs as being at all efficient. Perhaps not to the extent of the Hard-Pressed Dems, but also less faith than the Solid Liberals.