Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A political typology or a political typo?

Via Matt Yglesias I find that the Pew Research Center has put out a political typology for 2005. Normally I really dig these sorts of things. But I don't dig this one at all. They have 9 groups: Enterprisers, Social Convervatives, Pro-Government Conservatives, Conservative Democrats, Disadvantaged Democrats, Liberals, Upbeats, Disaffecteds and Bystanders. Don't be lazy, I'm not going to describe each one for you. I have a couple issues.

My first question is "where are the libertarians?" The only not obviously pro-government categories are the Enterprisers, Upbeats, and Disaffecteds but none of these categories are a true. Upbeats are far too liberal economically ("Very favorable views of government performance and responsiveness defines the group"). I took their diagnostic quiz as a Libertarian Party libertarian would and categorized as an Enterpriser. But 73% of Enterprisers support the Patriot Act, something which NO libertarians support. Perhaps most libertarians are Disaffecteds. This would explain why they haven't had any political success whatsoever. But Disaffecteds are against trade and waver on most other economic issues.

One problem is that they really don't ask the kinds of social questions that would positively identify libertarians. For example, there is no mention of drug legalization, the draft, privacy, sex laws. The social issues they do identify, gay marriage, religion, etc., are issues on which libertarians are basically split. True, the social issues libertarians really care about are not the issues of the day. Another possibility is that there are not very many libertarians. But Pew didn't even ask questions that would have told them that. My not-totally uneducated prior is that 15%-20% of the population are socially liberal and economically conservative, perhaps not Libertarian Party libertarians, but close. In that case, libertarians must be spread out among several categories.

My other qualm is that the only categories I plausibly belong to are Liberal and Upbeat, but I don't really feel at home in either one. The Upbeats are too damn annoying and Liberals are too Kos-like. I also somewhat resent the method of using "how well off are you?" questions to divide the Disadvantaged Democrats from the Liberals. If you ignore income there should be TONS of overlap. Most of my complaints boil down to two things. They should have used a finer partition of the population and I should have designed the survey.

I would love, LOVE, to get my hands on the raw data. Not that I'd know what to do with it, but it'd be better than Pew. One statistic is particularly disturbing, 33% of Americans think that creationism should be taught in public schools *instead* of evolution. What?! I thought it was more like, say, 5%...


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