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U.S. political views not rigidly defined

JAZELLE HUNT | 7/10/2014, 1:52 p.m.
Politically, the nation is less a sharply divided collection of red and blue states, and more a rainbow patchwork of ...
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WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Politically, the nation is less a sharply divided collection of red and blue states, and more a rainbow patchwork of political ideologies, according to the Pew Center.

The report, “Beyond vs. Blue: The Political Typology” (and its supplemental reports) breaks American politics down beyond primary colors. Political typology, a system the Pew Center devised 27 years ago, groups people based on their attitudes on key issues as opposed to their limited partisan labels.

“More Americans today hold consistently liberal or consistently conservative values across a wide range of issues, Democrats and Republicans are further apart ideologically, and more partisans express deeply negative views of the other political party,” the report stated. “But the typology shows that the center is hardly unified.”

This year’s typology survey revealed eight attitude categories. The highest share of African Americans (accounting for 30 percent of the group) fall into a category called the “faith and family left.” Religion “is a very important part of life” for 85 percent of this group’s members. They are, or lean, Democrat, favoring robust social programs, while also holding conservative attitudes on moral and religious issues such as same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization and abortion. For Republicans looking to draw Black voters from the left, this would be the fount – fully 37 percent of the faith and family left consider themselves conservative.

The faith and family left is the only category that is majority-minority – it also encompasses the largest share of Latino and foreign-born voters. And yet, the views on racial issues are murky within this group. While 74 percent support affirmative action, only 28 percent believe the government should continue making changes to give Blacks equal rights. At the same time, 57 percent believe that “blacks who are unable to get ahead are responsible for their own condition.”

According to the report, this is now the prevailing attitude in the United States.

“While the public is divided over whether additional societal changes are needed to further racial equality, most do not believe that discrimination is the main reason why many blacks can’t get ahead today,” it stated. “By more than two-to-one (63 percent to 27 percent), the public says Blacks who can’t get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition.”

In fact, racial inequality is one of the most divisive topics on the left. Among “solid liberals” (just 15 percent of voters, 69 percent of whom are White), 80 percent say that discrimination holds Blacks back. This is compared to 31 percent of the faith and family left who believe the same. People under 50 who skew liberal are even more skeptical about racial inequality.

As the report explains, “The Next Generation Left are young, relatively affluent and very liberal on social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion. But they have reservations about the cost of social programs. And while most of the Next Generation Left support affirmative action, they decisively reject the idea that racial discrimination is the main reason why many blacks are unable to get ahead.”