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.
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Beyond Red vs. Blue: Redefining the Political Landscape

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Beyond Red vs. Blue: Redefining the Political Landscape

Beyond Red vs. Blue: Redefining the Political Landscape

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

There are many ways of identifying Americans by their politics. There are Republicans, Democrats and Independents; conservatives, moderates and liberals; residents of red states and blue states and of states that are capable of changing color. Well, The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which prides itself on going beyond red and blue, has issued the latest update of its Political Typology. Pew identifies Americans in three broad groupings--left, right and middle--but within each of those, there are three distinct categories. Andrew Kohut, who's president of The Pew Research Center, joins us.

Welcome back.

Mr. ANDREW KOHUT (President, The Pew Research Center): Happy to be here.

SIEGEL: Let's talk about these groups. First, the groups on the left, there are three of them. They are the liberals, the conservative Democrats and the disadvantaged Democrats.

Mr. KOHUT: The liberals are affluent, well-educated, highly secular group of people, liberal on social issues, oppose Bush's assertive foreign policy, strong environmentalists. Conservative Democrats are much more conservative on social issues, moderate on many other issues, older group highly concerned about individualism and issues such as that.

SIEGEL: Mm-hmm. And the disadvantaged Democrats?

Mr. KOHUT: Poor, mainly from minority groups, look to government to help them deal with the problems that they struggle with.

SIEGEL: Over on the right, among the Republican groups, you have enterprisers, pro-government conservatives and social conservatives.

Mr. KOHUT: Enterprisers are staunch conservatives up and down the line on all of the value dimensions which we use to classify these voters. Social conservatives mostly agree with them, except they're not so favorable toward business and they are stronger backers of the environment. But they're very much social conservatives on social issues.

SIEGEL: And pro-government conservatives.

Mr. KOHUT: The poor people who've now come to the Republican coalition, who are socially conservative but are also looking to the government--favor an activist government to deal with the problems that they confront.

SIEGEL: So who's left in the middle?

Mr. KOHUT: Left in the middle are two groups, very disparate. Both lean to the Republican party: upbeats, who are positive about their lives, positive about national institutions, moderate, young, affluent; and then the disaffecteds, who are anything but all of those things. They are cynical about government, depressed about their lives, low individualism. But they lean to the Republican Party; they are drawn to the party by Bush.

SIEGEL: And then there are just the bystanders.

Mr. KOHUT: Who are basically democracy's dropouts; don't pay attention, don't care much about politics and public affairs.

SIEGEL: Well, the center has been doing this sort of Political Typology since 1987. This is the fourth time around.

Mr. KOHUT: It is.

SIEGEL: Which groups have grown much over time, and which have diminished?

Mr. KOHUT: Well, on the Republican side, we have more groups holding values that are on the right. Clearly, the emergence of a pro-government Republican group is the big news. The other real difference is the ways in which the middle now tilts to the right. These disparate people in terms of their values, upbeats and disaffecteds, looking favorable upon President Bush, looking more favorably on the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. We've never had that before. The center has been a little bit Democratic, a little bit Republican in terms of values.

SIEGEL: A couple of questions that you asked among--a great many stood out for me. One of them was that you asked people: `Is paying the bills not generally a problem, or would you agree with the statement "I often can't make ends meet"?' The group which by far answered `I often can't make ends meet' most frequently, 68 percent of them, were the pro-government conservatives.

Mr. KOHUT: That's right. There are now poor people on the Republican side. But these pro-government conservatives, unlike disadvantaged Democrats, think they can make it. They don't feel that the reason why they're in dire straits has to do with larger forces in society. They think that they themselves have the ability to pull themselves up.

SIEGEL: On the other hand, you asked people: `Which is more important, cutting the deficit or cutting taxes?' And the overwhelming most pro-cut-the-deficit group of all of these nine categories are the liberals.

Mr. KOHUT: Yeah, that's kind of strange. If you were to go back and look at the typology in 1987, it would have been the enterprisers. We've had a total flip on who the deficit hawks are these days. It's not the enterpriser Republicans; it's the liberal Democrats.

SIEGEL: So, Andy, tell our listeners how they can play the game online.

Mr. KOHUT: Go on, and get yourself typed. Become one of the typology groups in the new Pew Political Typology.

SIEGEL: We have a link to your Web site, and you can take the questionnaire and see what your Political Typology is.

Mr. KOHUT: Absolutely.

SIEGEL: Andrew Kohut, president of The Pew Research Center, thanks for talking with us once again.

Mr. KOHUT: You're welcome.

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