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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Only 19 percent of members of this group attribute the African American plight to racial discrimination. Fully 67 percent believe that the U.S. has made enough changes to even the racial playing field, and 77 percent believe that anyone who wants to get ahead can do so through hard work. Black Americans account for 7 percent of the next generation left.

Black voters account for less than 5 percent of “steadfast conservatives” and even less of “business conservatives,” the two Republican-leaning groups. Among political “bystanders,” those disenfranchised or unregistered by choice and/or pay little to no attention to politics, 10 percent are Black. Black voters make up a significant share (20 percent) of “hard-pressed skeptics” who identify as Independents. (This group is still largely White, making up 61 percent of the ranks).

“Deeply financially-stressed and distrustful of government, Hard-Pressed Skeptics lean toward the Democratic Party but have reservations about both political parties,” the report explained. “They want government to do more to solve problems, but have doubts about its efficiency.”

This group has a half-hearted interest in following government (43 percent pay attention “most of the time”), is largely under- and unemployed, and has the lowest incomes and education levels.

In turn, members of this group overwhelmingly harbor negative opinions, including: immigrants are a burden on the country; government benefits don’t go far enough; hard work does not guarantee success; and the country’s best times have passed.

Despite all of these differences, the average citizen is not nearly as politically unyielding as the behavior of elected officials might suggest.

The report explains that “Overall, more Americans say they prefer elected officials who make compromises with people they disagree with than those who stick to their positions (56 percent vs. 39 percent),” with the exception of “steadfast conservatives” who prefer their candidates – well, steadfast. Similarly, the faith and family left are about evenly divided on the merit of candidates who can compromise.

And so, it’s going to be a nail-biting election season for a deadlocked two-party system struggling to capture and represent the ideological diversity among voters, the report concluded.

“Beyond the ideological wings, which make up a minority of the public, the political landscape includes a center that is large and diverse, unified by frustration with politics and little else,” it explained. “As a result, both parties face formidable challenges in reaching beyond their bases to appeal to the middle of the electorate and build sustainable coalitions.”