Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pew research looks into polarization

Today's PBS News had a segment from Pew Research about changes in voters. Some findings:

1. They started in 1987, when they found that income, education, race, and party affiliation were co-equal shapers of political values. Now all of those still mattered, but the relative important of party affiliation has doubled.

2. In 1987, the average disparity by party was 10%, when Pew asked people 48 values-oriented questions. Now it's 18%. Meaning the number of liberal Republicans ("RINOs") and conservative Democrats ("DINOs") has dwindled.

The increase has mostly occurred over the past 10 years, not earlier. For example, most Democrats strongly disapproved of President Bush, and Republicans of President Obama.

3. Centrists are now much more likely to call themselves independents. Today 38% of voters describe themselves that way--the highest % in 75 years. 32% call themselves Democrat, and just 24% Republican.

4. The areas of greatest polarization they're about the role of government in general and in areas of entitlements, growing power of government, healthcare.

5. For example, 88% of Republicans say government is too involved in healthcare, along with 61% of independents, and 37% of Democrats.

5. Linda Killian, author of "The Swing Vote: the untapped power of independents" added some findings about how independents subdivide into mostly-Republican voting, mostly-Democrat voting, and truly independent. That is, this is where the DINOs and the RINOs have gone. They're disgusted with the two parties, hate money in politics, worry about the deficit, jobs, the economy, substance.

Killian says independents are diverse; she looked most closely at those in the battleground states Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, and New Hampshire.

She found 4 main subdivisions:
a. "NPR Republicans" -- socially liberal, fiscally conservative
b. "America first Democrats" --conservative Democratic voters
c. "Facebook voters" --young voters, registered as independent more than any other age cohort
d. "Suburban voters" --as well as exurban--the ones who swing elections

6. It's a myth that independents are uninformed and indifferent. They care about politics as much as the party regulars, but their politics don't fit either major party' s ideological mold. They are socially tolerant. They believe the government doesn't have a role in banning/restricting abortion, gay marriage, birth control. In general they are indifferent in these areas. Fiscal responsibility--dollars and cents issues--are what matter to them.

7. Half of all independents are truly swing voters. That's about 20% of all registered voters.

8. They'll make up their minds around October after watching both conventions, and base their chose on the economy and jobs, ignoring most other issues.


This certainly makes sense to me. I'm independent (though registered Democrat) because I'm to the right of the Republicans on immigration (legal and illegal), to the right of both Republicans and Democrats on overpopulation, contemptuous of the Republicans' anti-science, anti-environment agenda, including their positions on birth control, homosexual marriage, abortion, the nonexistent war on religion, and most of the rest of their social agenda. Yet I'm also contemptuous of the Democrats' subservience to Wall Street (thought it's less than the total thrall of the Republicans), their advocacy of illegal immigration and "family reunification," their constant attempts to give special favors to every ethnic group but Anglos, and of both parties' total indifference to the need for a universal biometric ID database--putting us behind even countries like India.

I do support abortion and birth control, but not for the reasons Democrats give. I do support economic austerity, as Republicans do, but not during recessions. And I believe both parties are riddled with obligation to special interests at odds with the general welfare of Americans, and with elected officials' corrupt self-dealing practics.

Above all else I favor transparency in politics, and making lying illegal in political campaigns--especially lying about things which have been proven false, as Romney does every single day.

So I'll be voting for Obama in November, not because I think he'd be our best possible president for the next four years, but because I think a unified Republican control of all three branches of government would replicate the economic and social disaster of 2000-2010.

Note that the Republicans' attempts to blame the 2008 recession of Democratic efforts to help unqualified people buy homes mostly occurred while the Republicans were fully in control of all three branches of government. So whatever the causes of the 2008 recession--those causes were Republican. I believe their massive fiscal irresponsibility would return in force with a Romney presidency. In fact they've already promised it by endorsing the Ryan budget, whose total avoidance of increased taxes and of any cuts whatsoever to our bloated military spending would cost us vast amounts. All their talk about the Obama administration spending out of control, of Obamacare being more expensive than their alternative (which is nothing), are all Big Lies.

The very best we can hope for is a President Obama unable to enact any legislation he'd like but able to veto the Republicans' efforts to complete their class war of the millionaires and billionaires on the rest of us. Those are the only people who benefited as a group from the last Republican presidency, and they'll be the only ones who benefit from the next one.

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