- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Upbeats, enterprisers, pro-government conservatives: Political types don’t come in plain red and blue these days. A Pew Research Center poll released yesterday reveals a spectrum of subsets among Democrats and Republicans who disagree over policies, beliefs and values.

The poll categorizes the ideological divisions as “significant cleavages” and “intra-party fissures” that challenge both sides to shore up voter unity as the nation heads toward 2006 midterm elections and the 2008 presidential race.

The research also reveals some noteworthy traits overall. Among them, the poll says, 64 percent of Americans regularly display the American flag, 74 percent say displaying the Ten Commandments in government buildings is “proper,” and 71 percent consider the United States a “Christian nation.”

Republicans have one advantage, though.

“Voters inclined towards the Republican Party are distinguished from Democrats by their personal optimism and belief in the power of the individual,” the poll states.

It credits Republicans for doing a better job of standing up for traditional party issues.

“Liberals are particularly negative about the performance of the Democratic Party,” the poll finds. Overall, 33 percent said their party did a good job supporting core positions. Among Republicans, the figure was 51 percent.

Meanwhile, Republicans are united by their support of strong national security and assertive foreign policy, plus their unified opposition to abortion and homosexual “marriage.” The party is divided, however, over economic and domestic issues, such as the environment.

Democrats are united by unwavering opposition to the Iraq war and by favoring diplomacy over military strength. Still, they quibble among themselves over values. For example, 84 percent of liberals say belief in God is not necessary to be moral. Conservative and disadvantaged Democrats strongly disagree.

Such trends have generated nine distinct political types — three leaning toward Republicans, three inclined toward Democrats and three wavering in the middle. During the 1990s, these middle groups were not particularly partisan, “but today they lean decidedly to the GOP,” the poll says.

The staunchly conservative, patriotic, anti-welfare “enterprisers” presented “the most consistent ideological profile” of any group in the bunch, it says. Meanwhile, well-educated and affluent liberals who oppose a muscular foreign policy and support abortion, welfare and environmental protection have “swelled to become the largest voting bloc in the typology.”

Gun ownership is most prevalent among the Republicans’ “enterprisers” group — 59 percent of the people in that group have a gun at home. Liberals are the least likely to own a gun, with 23 percent saying they owned a firearm.

The poll of 2,000 adults was conducted Dec. 1 through Dec. 16, with a follow-up survey of 1,090 respondents conducted March 17 through March 27. The complete poll can be found online at https://people-press.org.

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