The Liberal/Conservative dichotomy does not really explain where people are on the political spectrum. There are different kinds of conservatives and different kinds of liberals. This has been a theme of a number of our blog posts. But now the Pew Research Center has formulated a “political typology” that consists of nine different positions:
Staunch Conservatives take extremely conservative positions on nearly all issues – on the size and role of government, on economics, foreign policy, social issues and moral concerns. Most agree with the Tea Party and even more very strongly disapprove of Barack Obama’s job performance. A second core group of Republicans – Main Street Republicans – also is conservative, but less consistently so.
On the left, Solid Liberals express diametrically opposing views from the Staunch Conservatives on virtually every issue. While Solid Liberals are predominantly white, minorities make up greater shares of New Coalition Democrats – who include nearly equal numbers 0f whites, African Americans and Hispanics – and Hard-Pressed Democrats, who are about a third African American. Unlike Solid Liberals, both of these last two groups are highly religious and socially conservative. New Coalition Democrats are distinguished by their upbeat attitudes in the face of economic struggles.
Independents have played a determinative role in the last three national elections. But the three groups in the center of the political typology have very little in common, aside from their avoidance of partisan labels. Libertarians and Post-Moderns are largely white, well-educated and affluent. They also share a relatively secular outlook on some social issues, including homosexuality and abortion. But Republican-oriented Libertarians are far more critical of government, less supportive of environmental regulations, and more supportive of business than are Post-Moderns, most of whom lean Democratic.
Disaffecteds, the other main group of independents, are financially stressed and cynical about politics. Most lean to the Republican Party, though they differ from the core Republican groups in their support for increased government aid to the poor. Another group in the center, Bystanders, largely consign themselves to the political sidelines and for the most part are not included in this analysis.
You can even take a quiz to see which one of these you are. This is not one of those Facebook quizzes, like seeing which Star Trek character you are. This is sophisticated social science research!
And yet, it still seems to leave a lot of political ideologies out: Where are the Burkean conservatives? The neo-conservatives? The paleo-conservatives? The crunchy conservatives? The Wendell Berry conservatives? The localists? The Reconstructionists? Where are the socialists? The Greens? The Anarchists? The Jihadists? The Marxists?
I think the true political spectrum is even more complicated than this typology shows.
Take the quiz. Does it peg you? Or are there other issues that this study doesn’t even raise that are more definitive, as far as you are concerned?