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Beyond Red vs. Blue: Redefining the Political Landscape

Political observers divided America into red and blue states for the 2004 election. But a new study fine-tunes political groups into more specific categories, including "pro-government conservatives," "disadvantaged Democrats" and "bystanders."

Robert Siegel talks to Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press about the center's latest political typography — the fourth such demographic snapshot since 1987.

"On the Republican side, we have more groups holding values that are on the right," Kohut says, adding that the emergence of pro-government Republicans as a group "is the big news" this time around.

"The other big differences are the ways in which the middle now tilts to the right," he says. Disparate categories in the center are looking more favorably on President Bush and the GOP than the Democratic Party. "We've never had that before," Kohut says. "The center has been a little bit Democratic, a little bit Republican in terms of values."

Groups in the 2005 Political Typology

The 2005 political typology includes nine distinct groups, based on their political values and ideologies. There are three GOP groups, three centrist groups and three Democratic-oriented groups:

THE RIGHT

Enterprisers: Highly patriotic and pro-business; they oppose social welfare and strongly support an assertive national security policy. Wealthy, well-educated and white — about seven-in-10 are white males.

Social Conservatives: Highly religious and very conservative on moral issues. Unlike the Enterprisers, they tend to be critical of business and supportive of government regulation to protect the environment. Largely female and evangelical Christian — about half favor the teaching of creationism instead of evolution, more than any other group.

Pro-Government Conservatives: Also broadly religious, but deviate from the party line in their support for more generous assistance for the poor. Predominantly female and poorer than other GOP groups — roughly two-thirds say they have problems making ends meet.

THE CENTER

Upbeats: Financially well-off moderates who express positive views of their finances, government performance and business. Upbeats voted nearly five-to-one for Bush, but half have a favorable opinion of Bill Clinton.

Disaffecteds: By contrast, they are cynical about government and dissatisfied with their personal finances. Disaffecteds backed President Bush by about two-to-one, but many stayed home on Election Day.

Bystanders: Young, financially struggling and even more politically alienated than the Disaffecteds — very few voted last November.

THE LEFT

Liberals: Affluent and highly secular. Like Enterprisers, liberals are ideologically consistent –- they take the liberal stance on social issues, foreign policy and the role of government. Nearly four-in-10 cite the Internet as their main source of news.

Conservative Democrats: Highly religious and socially conservative — most say the government should do more to protect morality.

Disadvantaged Democrats: The least financially secure of all the groups, and the most pessimistic about an individual's ability to secure success with hard work. About one-in-five Disadvantaged Democrats are single parents.

Source: Pew Research Center

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Andrew Kohut
Commentator Andrew Kohut can be heard frequently on NPR programs, offering analysis and insights on the meaning and interpretation of opinion poll results ranging from Americans' attitudes about gay marriage to the issues driving the elections.
Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.