Updated at 11:53 a.m. ET.
There is a political crackup happening in America.
There remain two major political parties in this country, but there are stark fissures within each. There seem to be roughly at least four stripes of politics today — the pragmatic left (think: Obama-Clinton, the left-of-center establishment Democrats), the pragmatic right (the Bush-McCain-Bob Corker Republican), the populist right (Trump’s America) and the populist left (Bernie Sanders liberals).
But a new political typology out Tuesday from the Pew Research Center, based on surveys of more than 5,000 adults conducted over the summer, goes even deeper. It finds eight distinct categories of political ideology (nine if you include “bystanders,” those not engaged with politics).
They are as follows, from most conservative to most liberal (in part based on how many of them crossover between the two major parties. It also mostly tracks with their approval or Trump):
1. Core Conservatives — 13 percent of the general public
2. Country First Conservatives — 6 percent
3. Market Skeptic Republicans — 12 percent
4. New Era Enterprisers — 11 percent
5. Devout and Diverse — 9 percent
6. Disaffected Democrats — 14 percent
7. Opportunity Democrats — 12 percent
8. Solid Liberals — 16 percent
(You can take their quiz and see what you are here.)
While the Solid Liberals and Core Conservatives make up less than a third of the total population, they make up almost half of the most politically engaged. Because of that, they have an outsize influence in U.S. politics.
They are also, predictably, the most interested in the 2018 election. There’s a stark drop off in interest in the midterms among any other group, and that points to yet again a midterm election where the most activist dominate and there’s a drop in turnout from a presidential year.
Meanwhile, Pew also identified a sizable portion of the American population that are essentially political “bystanders.” They’re not engaged with politics, not registered to vote, young and majority-minority. And there’s a lot of them — 8 percent of the population, or roughly 20 million people.
Overall, Pew sums up its findings, in a new 150-page report, this way:
“Nearly a year after Donald Trump was elected president, the Republican coalition is deeply divided on such major issues as immigration, America’s role in the world and the fundamental fairness of the U.S. economic system.
“The Democratic coalition is largely united in staunch opposition to President Trump. Yet, while Trump’s election has triggered a wave of political activism within the party’s sizable liberal bloc, the liberals’ sky-high political energy is not nearly as evident among other segments in the Democratic base. And Democrats also are internally divided over U.S. global involvement, as well as some religious and social issues.”
Here’s how the eight groups break down:
Republican leaners — four groups
1. Core Conservatives
13 percent of the country, 31 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of politically engaged Republicans
They are, as Pew describes:
- Male dominated and financially comfortable
- In favor of smaller government and lower corporate tax rates
- Of the belief that the U.S. economic system is fair — four-fifths don’t believe the government can afford to do more for needy Americans and that blacks who can’t get ahead are responsible for their own condition
- Believers in U.S. involvement in the global economy. You might call them “globalists.”
- Not very socially conservative — a majority don’t think immigrants are a burden and just over a third believes homosexuality should be discouraged by society.
And yet this group approves strongly of Trump. Fully 93 percent approve of the president’s job performance, the highest of any group. It’s even more than the Country First category, and you’ll see why that might be surprising in the next section.
This could simply be the product of Core Conservatives being more politically engaged generally — and more likely to wear the “GOP” T-shirt.
2. Country First
6 percent of the country, 14 percent of Republicans, 14 percent of politically engaged Republicans
- Older and less educated than other Republican-leaning voters
- Unhappy with the direction of the country
- Nationalist — they believe the country is too open to immigrants and that Americans risk “losing our identity as a nation” because of it
- Protectionist — they don’t like the U.S. involved around the world and they think immigrants are a burden
- Not of the belief that the government should do more to help the needy (70 percent) and they believe that blacks who can’t get ahead are responsible for their own condition (76 percent)
- Socially conservative — they believe that homosexuality should be discouraged by society (70 percent)
- Populist — they’re less likely than most other Republicans to believe the U.S. economic system is fair to most Americans
3. Market Skeptic Republicans
12 percent of the country, 22 percent of Republicans, but only 17 percent of the most politically engaged
- Populist — they believe banks and financial institutions have a negative effect on the direction of the country; 94 percent believe the economic system favors the powerful. That is much closer to Solid Liberals than Core Conservatives. And they do not believe that U.S. economy is fair to most – just 5 percent think so. This is a major distinction between them and the other GOP-leaning groups
- In favor of raising taxes on corporations and small businesses — the only GOP-leaning group to feel that way
- Of the belief that government can’t afford to do more to help needy Americans. A strong majority (58 percent) says so, but they are the least likely Republican leaning group to feel that way.
- Of the belief that blacks who can’t get ahead are responsible for their own condition.
- Fairly socially liberal — just 31 percent believe homosexuality should be discouraged by society
- Somewhat protectionist, though less than Country First Republicans — they are split on U.S. involvement around the globe
4. New Era Enterprisers
11 percent of the country, 17 percent of Republicans, 16 percent of the most engaged Republicans
- Youngest of the Republican-leaning categories, with an average age of 47
- Optimistic about the country — they are the most likely group to believe the next generation will be better off
- Pro-business and trade (they’re globalists, too), of the belief that the economy is generally fair to most Americans (75 percent say so)
- Of the belief that being involved around the globe is good for markets
- Socially liberal — believing immigrants are not a burden and that homosexuality should not be discouraged by society
- Somewhat more diverse — two-thirds are white, but that’s the lowest of all other GOP-leaning groups
Democratic leaners — four groups
5. Devout and Diverse
9 percent of the country, 11 percent of Democrats, just 6 percent of the most politically engaged
- Majority-minority, struggling financially, older and the least educated of the Democratic-leaning categories. Just 15 percent have college degrees
- Very religious. Nearly two-thirds believe it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values
- Politically mixed. A quarter are Republicans. It’s the category with the most crossover.
- The strongest Democratic-leaning group to believe the U.S. should pay more attention at home than to problems overseas
- Largely pro-business and don’t believe government regulation is necessary to protect the public’s interest
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the most pro-Trump Democratic group (though 60 percent still disapprove of him), but…
- Of the belief that government should provide safety nets like everyone having health care and that the country needs to still make changes to advance racial equality
6. Disaffected Democrats
14 percent of the country, 23 percent of Democrats, 11 percent of the most politically engaged
The label doesn’t have to do with their disaffection with the Democratic Party. They actually regard the Democratic Party very favorably. But rather they’re disaffected with government (most of them say government is “wasteful and inefficient”); politics generally (most believe voting does not give them a say in how government runs); and the direction of the country.
- Majority-minority, lower educated, financially stressed — and fairly young (with an average age of 44)
- Anti-Trump, pro-social safety net and believe the U.S. needs to continue making changes to affect racial equality.
- Split, however, on whether hard work can help you get ahead
- Not of the belief government regulation is necessary to protect the public interest
- Of the belief that the U.S. should pay more attention to problems at home.
7. Opportunity Democrats
12 percent of the country, 20 percent of Democrats, 13 percent of the most politically engaged
- Majority white and working-to-middle-class, and only a third have college degrees
- Largely liberal when it comes to the role of government, strongly in disapproval of Trump and two-thirds believe the country needs to do more to give blacks equal rights to whites (though that’s the lowest of the four Democratic-leaning groups), but…
- Very much in disagreement with other Democratic-leaning groups about the ability to make it in the U.S. through hard work. They believe strongly that you can. But they are not protectionist. They believe in global engagement.
8. Solid Liberals
16 percent of the country, 33 percent of Democrats, 25 percent of the most politically engaged
- Largely white, well-educated and comfortable financially
- Young (average age of only 44)
- Unified, almost unanimously in their disapproval of Trump (99 percent disapprove). And they are activist about it — half say they have contributed to a candidate or campaign in the past year. For context, just a third of Core Conservatives say the same. Four-in-10 Solid Liberals say they’ve participated in a protest against Trump’s policies.
- Unified in their belief that government has the responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care and have a strong sense of racial justice. There is near-unanimous agreement among this group that the country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites
- Of the belief that hard work and determination are no guarantee of success in the United States. Nearly three-quarters of this group says so, and this is an area where they largely differ from the other three Democratic groups as well as the Republican-leaning categories.
- Strongly of the belief that it’s necessary to regulate businesses to protect the public interest, another area where they differ with half of the Democratic-leaning categories and all of the Republican-leaning ones
- Very much globalists. Very few, just one-in-10, believe the U.S. should pay less attention overseas and focus more on problems at home. That is a major difference with two of the Democratic-leaning categories and three of the Republican-leaning ones
- Largely nonreligious. Just 9 percent believe it’s necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values