ANALYSIS OF PARTY SELF- IDENTIFICATION IN AMERICA October 2014

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1 ANALYSIS OF PARTY SELF- IDENTIFICATION IN AMERICA October 2014 Abstract While more Americans state affiliation to the ic Party, underlying attitudes indicate that s and s have similar sized bases and there is evidence that s might have an advantage making turnout the key to GOP candidate victory. Erin Norman Norman Analytics and Research

2 Executive Summary The results of an online survey conducted among 1,508 members of the general public were used for an in-depth look at political affiliation in America. The key findings of this analysis are as follows: More Americans self-identify as s than s. However, after adjusting for beliefs and opinions on specific policy issues, the bases of s and s are similar sizes and s actually have a slight advantage (25% to 23%). Self-identified s are more likely than their counterparts to disagree with the official party platform; 7 of s have no views that oppose their party compared to just 57% of s. s are also more likely than s to skip voting if they have issues with the candidates presented. Confirmed s are most often at odds with the ic Party on government spending and immigration. Self-identified s and Not-so-strong s are equally likely to hold truly conservative values. While the different descriptors make one group sound more conservative, there are no real differences between the two groups. Independents are nearly twice as likely to have conservative views as liberal ones. However, they choose not to self-identify with the Party so attempts to convince them to adopt the full Party platform will be unsuccessful. Instead, Independents are likely to support individual candidates with conservative views, allowing them to keep their preferred distance from a major political party. October

3 Introduction Conventional wisdom tells us that Americans are more politically divided than they have ever been. In reality, most Americans fall somewhere between the two highly publicized extremes and are increasingly abandoning traditional political party labels even if they share an ideology with s or s. With many campaigns focusing on the base it is increasingly important to understand what self-identified party labels mean and what limitations they have. Partisans in America A plurality of Americans self-identify as politically Independent. Among individuals who chose to align themselves with a major political party, 28% choose the ic Party while just 17% identify with s. (Figure 1) Figure 1 Party 5 45% % 6% 8% Not-so- Independents (with leaners) Not-so- Independents (with leaners) Not-so- Not-so- Ideology in America Although more Americans readily affiliate themselves with the ic Party, the country has a definite preference for conservative policies when it comes to the economy. Two-thirds of America prefer non-liberal economic policies with 37% favoring conservative strategies. Nearly the same number of Americans prefer non-liberal policies on education and healthcare, although the public is not quite as conservative regarding these topics. However, when it comes to moral issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, Americans lean to the left with 36% describing themselves as liberal and another 23% saying they are moderate on these types of issues. (Figure 2) October

4 Figure 2 35% 3 25% 15% 1 5% Very Conservative Economic Ideology Somewhat Conservative Moderate Somewhat Liberal Very Liberal Economic Ideology Education/Healthcare Ideology Moral Ideology People can be reluctant to change the political party they affiliate with even if their ideology drifts away from the official party platform over time. Similarly, certain events and candidates can tarnish a political party to the extent that individuals will not associate with it despite an ideological agreement. We examined the intersection of self-identified political party and self-identified ideology on a number of broad issue areas. s are more likely to self-identify as conservatives across all issue areas. For example, 86% of s call themselves economically conservative while only 57% of s take the opposing position as an economic liberal. Indeed, when looking at self-reported ideology by political party, it becomes clear that economic conservatism is by no means limited to the right side of the aisle. Furthermore, nearly half of Independents as well as Not-so-strong s refuse to call themselves economically liberal. s are more likely to take a liberal position on healthcare and education than on economic issues. However, there is still a large gap with s being more likely to identify as conservatives than s are to self-describe as liberals on these issues. The gap between s and self-identified liberal ideology is the smallest on moral issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion but s are still more consistently conservative than s are liberal; three-quarters of s call themselves ideologically conservative on these issues compared to 62% of s who say they are liberal. (Figure 3) October

5 Figure 3 Economic Conservative Economic Moderate Economic Liberal Education/Healthcare Conservative Education/Healthcare Moderate Education/Healthcare Liberal Moral Conservative Moral Moderate Moral Liberal Not-so- Independent (with leaners) Not-so- ECONOMIC 86% 75% 35% 17% 17% 9% 17% 46% 46% 23% 6% 6% 14% 34% 57% EDUCATION/HEALTHCARE 85% 62% 27% 16% 19% 7% 23% 45% 37% 16% 8% 15% 22% 44% 63% MORAL 75% 61% 29% 13% 18% 33% 29% 12% 1 19% 31% 46% 62% Because self-proclaimed labels can sometimes be misleading, we validated this data by asking respondents if they supported or opposed a variety of policies; six economic, five education/healthcare and five moral (see Appendix for details). For each issue, a person received a score of 1 for the conservative viewpoint, a score of -1 for the liberal viewpoint and a score of 0 for a neutral viewpoint and these scores were summed across broad issue topic areas. Therefore, a person with a high positive score would be validated as a strong conservative while a person with a high negative score would be a confirmed liberal regardless of their self-identified party. The data in Figure 4 confirms that the American public leans right on economic issues. s are more likely to support liberal economic policies, but even in this group very few unilaterally support specific liberal economic policies. There is further evidence in this test that s are more likely to align with conservative economic viewpoints than s are with liberal ones; 69% of self-identified members of the GOP validate their claim with positions on issues compared to just 3 of self-identified Liberals. (Figure 4) October

6 Figure % Economic Issue Scores by Party 3 47% Total 49% 47% 47% 28% 3 27% 23% 14% 14% 7% 1% 3% 1% 3% Independent Conservative (Score +5 to +6) Conservative (Score of +2 to +4) Moderate (Score of -1 to +1) Liberal (Score of -2 to -4) Liberal Score of -5 to -6) Consistent with other findings, Americans are largely moderate on education and healthcare issues with few falling into the categories of extreme conservative or extreme liberal when grouped by their positions on specific issues. Education and healthcare are the topics with the largest percentage of s taking liberal positions and the fewest number of s taking conservative ones. (figure 5) Figure Healthcare/Education Issue Scores by Self- Identified Party 48% 51% 43% 47% 41% 35% 24% 25% 24% 23% 17% 1 2% 1% 5% 2% 3% Total Independent Conservative (Score +5) Conservative (Score of +2 to +4) Moderate (Score of -1 to +1) Liberal (Score of -2 to -4) Liberal Score of -5) Similar to other survey data presented here, moral issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion represent the most divisive issues in American politics although a plurality still describe their view as moderate. Same-sex marriage and abortion also appear to be issues that drive the s; 15% take positions which categorize them as true strong liberals, five times more than the number for economic or education/healthcare issues. (Figure 6) October

7 Figure % Moral Issue Scores by Party 35% 27% 25% Total 7% 15% 43% 29% 12% 38% 28% 3 29% 23% 23% 15% 5% 6% 3% Independent Conservative (Score +5) Conservative (Score of +2 to +4) Moderate (Score of -1 to +1) Liberal (Score of -2 to -4) Liberal Score of -5) Validating Self-Identification We examined where self-identified partisans had issue scores at odds with their stated ideology (-2 or lower for s, +2 or higher for s) for each of the three broad issue areas tested (economic, education/healthcare and moral). partisans who agreed with their party on at least two of the three major issue groupings were considered validated members of that party. Additionally, those self-proclaimed independents who agreed with one party on two or more issue groups were considered validated members of that party despite not self-identifying. The remaining respondents are considered Validated Moderates. For all issue groups tested there were at least a few s that took liberal positions and s that took conservative stances. A deeper analysis reveals that these non-universally loyal partisans as more common among self-proclaimed s. Although data shows there are more self-identified s in America today, there is evidence that the large number of self-identified s does not necessarily mean there are more individual how agree with the ic platform. Many of these people could possibly be swayed to vote for non-ic candidates or to not vote at all. As shown below in Figure 7, a key takeaway from this data is that there is no statistical difference between and Not-so-strong self-identified partisans once beliefs about policy are validated. Although people use labels to emphasize or soften their affiliation, these are simply cosmetic differences anyone who identifies with a party is equally likely to hold beliefs in line with that party regardless of the strength they indicate. (Figure 7) October

8 Figure 7 Not-so-strong Self- Identified Independent (with leaners) Self- Identified Not-sostrong Self- Identified Validated 99% 95% 28% Validated Moderate 1% 5% 57% 11% 17% Validated 16% 89% 83% Seven-in-ten s fully agree with their party at all compared to just 57% of s. (Figure 8) Validated Moderates tend to be more economically conservative, lean slightly left on issues such as education and healthcare and are evenly distributed on moral issues of same-sex marriage and abortion (with very few at either extreme). Figure 8 Number of Opposing Views on Issue Groups by Self-Indentified Party s 7 28% 2% s 57% 27% 14% 1% Opposing Views 1 Opposing View 2 Opposing Views 3 Opposing Views Roughly one-quarter of each party s supporters disagree with the official platform on one grouping of issues. For s, education and healthcare are where these partial defectors are most at odds with their party. Additionally, four-in-ten of these s do not agree with the party on moral issues. For s, those at odds with the party on just one issue grouping are most likely to disagree with the moral stances it takes although a significant number also differ on economic policy. For those s with two views opposite their party s platform, two-thirds disagree on the combination of economic and moral issues. It is worth noting that these individuals represent small percentages in the respective party and a majority of self-identified partisans agree with their chosen political party. (Figure 9) October

9 Figure 9 Issue Group d s with One Opposing View s with One Opposing View Economic 5% 34% Education/Healthcare 55% 15% Moral 4 51% After validating self-identified partisans with specific policy viewpoints, the gap between s and s becomes non-existent, with approximately equal numbers Americans favoring the and ic point of view even if they do not self-identify with the actual parties. On policy and ideas alone, s and s start out on roughly the same footing and s have a small edge. (Figure 10) Figure 10 s s Validated 12% 16% Partisans Independents Aligned with 13% 7% Specific Party (Discovered through Issue Validation) Total in Population 25% 23% Typical Voting Patterns Although we have seen that when accounting for underlying policy preferences, s and s should have bases of equal sizes, self-reported typical voting patterns indicate that s enjoy more support from their base. Individual candidates and branding of the parties may pull Americans toward or away from the group they align with the most on the issues. Significantly more Validated s than s say they vote for a mix of candidates. This is likely because self-identified Independents are more likely to be Validated s. This group may be stating they vote for a mix of candidates to keep up appearances as an Independent even though they clearly lean to the right. (Figure 11) These individuals are likely to vote for candidates but will need to be actively courted with economic issue messages. Validated s who say they vote for a mix of candidates are most likely to disagree with the Party on gay marriage (33%) while s supporting a mix of candidates most frequently break from their party on government spending (31%) and immigration (21%), October

10 Figure 11 Typical Voting Patterns by Validated Party Validated s 58% 6% 3% 33% Validated Moderates 14% 37% 4% 44% Validated s 2% 78% 1% Always/Usually Always/Usually Always/Usually Third Party Mix of Candidates When Americans are faced with a choice between two major party candidates they do not like, most will default to party as a proxy for the best choice. Validated s are slightly more likely to do so. s are the most likely to vote for their preferred party if no candidate excites them. Interestingly nearly one third of Validated Moderates, those who show a true balance between the parties on policy and decline to align with either party, say they would go with a candidate from a preferred party indicating they have one even if their preference is not obvious. (Figure 12) Figure % 4 35% 3 25% 15% 1 5% 35% 33% 29% Voting When Not Enthusatic About Major Party Candidates 44% 27% 39% Vote for candidate from preferred party 25% 16% 22% Vote for candidate dislike the least 23% 23% 21% 19% 19% 17% 16% 17% Vote for 3rd Party candidate 18% 13% 9% Validated s Validated Moderates Validated s s Independents s 5% Would not vote 15% 15% October

11 Implications for Candidates The American public is economically conservative in a time when economic issues reign supreme giving the Party an edge in electoral politics. Although at first glance it appears there is a higher incidence of s in the population, self-identified members of the ic Party are more likely to be unenthusiastic or partial defectors from the party platform. After accounting for underlying policy preferences s and s start out with roughly equal size bases and s may actually have a slight advantage. With s having a slight edge in the size of their base, turnout becomes the key to victory. As we have seen in the data, both self-identified and Not-so-strong s will side with GOP candidates and should be encouraged to turnout to vote. Furthermore, self-identified s are slightly less enthusiastic about their preferred party and are more likely to simply not vote if they have qualms about the candidates presented. As such, campaigns that engage in aggressive turnout efforts while simultaneously highlighting liberal economic stances of their opponents are very likely to be successful. Self-identified Independents are nearly twice as likely to have conservative views as liberal ones. Their hesitation in aligning with the Party could come from a variety of sources. This hesitation is enough to encourage them to say they vote for a variety of candidates. In reality, with encouragement to support individual candidates rather than the Party or its entire platform, these individuals will likely support conservative candidates more often than not. October

12 Appendix Economic Issue Increasing minimum wage Lowering taxes for businesses Spending more on financial assistance to the poor and unemployed Reducing the size of government Lowering taxes for individuals Reducing government regulations Education/Healthcare Issue Government mandating individuals to buy health insurance Encouraging every child to go to a 4-year college or university School voucher programs which allow parents to use tax dollars to send their children to private schools Governments mandating types of benefits health insurance companies must offer Requiring states to use a curriculum set by the federal government Moral Issue Allowing same-sex marriage in the U.S. Banning abortions past 12 weeks of pregnancy Prohibiting federal funding of abortion Having the government promote traditional values Banning all abortion View Assigned to Conservatism View Assigned to Conservatism View Assigned to Conservatism Methodology An online, opt-in survey was conducted among 1,508 members of the general public in America between September 9 and 17, An active sampling method was used to ensure a nationally representative sample which was balanced on type of phone line, region, education, income and nested gender, age and race groups. October

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