Monday, January 25, 2010

"Purging" the Party

Gallup polls from July to mid-August (reported in December here) looked pretty interesting to me, so I thought I'd mention a few things from them.

The polls don't report about the political leanings of minority groups, but they break down political leanings and political parties for Caucasians. I've adjusted the percentages below to show the percentage of whites in each political group:

Cons Democrats: 8%
Mod/Lib Democ: 34%

Cons Republican: 32%
Mod/Lib Repub: 15%

Independent: 11%

In other words, conservative Republicans outnumber moderates 2:1, but mod/liberal Democrats outnumber conservatives 4:1. The 'party line' among the Dems has been that they are the inclusive party and since the last election have been trumpeting the departure of moderates from the Republican camp. The Republicans, however, have generated a more inclusive culture of people who don't follow the same lock-step program.

What makes you more likely to buck your party's stereotype? There are two things in common: lower education and lower income. That is, it's not - as per Democrat stereotype - the poor, uneducated Republicans who are conservative, but the poor, uneducated Democrats are. The poor, uneducated Republicans are (more likely to be) moderates and liberals! Possible hypotheses: uneducated => less-indoctrinated; poorer => less willing to trust your own party's fat cats; or both imply less likely to be directly wooed away by the other party; or claiming to go against the party grain may be a way of trying to signal that, even though I'm uneducated, I am an individual and not blindly led. Other ideas?

The other factors Gallup finds follow more along the standard conservative/liberal spectrum: young, Eastern, irreligious, and women are more likely to be moderate/liberal while older and religious people are more likely to be conservative. They don't find men or Southerners trending one way or the other appreciably, though.

In other news, the gap between Dems' and Reps' approval of President Obama is wider now than for any other President and if this keeps up - ie, he can't manage to please Republicans and/or manages to keep his own party ecstatically happy with him - he will have been a more polarizing president than Dubya. Gallup notes that both Bush Jr and Obama came in appealing for unification and gives both men the benefit of the doubt for their intentions.

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