Pew Research Center: 2021 Typology

The long awaited 2021 Pew Research Center typology which describes divisions within the electorate and within the two parties is finally out. We spent months dissecting the last one.

Pew Research Center:

As you may recall, this was what the GOP looked like under the hood in 2017. The party was still institutionally and demographically dominated by Core Conservatives as it had been for decades. The story of the 2016 election was how Trump brought the Market Skeptic Republicans and New Era Enterprisers into the GOP coalition. These two groups are moderates in opposite ways with the Market Skeptic Republicans being moderates on economic issues while the New Era Enterprisers are moderates on social issues. The Country First Conservatives are the paleocons or the old Republican base.


Let’s go further back to 2014.

Prior to Trump, the GOP was dominated by two groups. There was the establishment wing of the party – the Business Conservatives (2014) or Core Conservatives (2017) – and the Republican base – the Steadfast Conservatives (2014) and Country First Conservatives (2017). This was essentially the difference between the Jeb Bush wing and Ted Cruz wing. In the 2014 Pew survey, the Young Outsiders are leaning GOP and the Hard Pressed Skeptics are leaning Democrat and were in the Center of the electorate.


Fastforward to 2021.

The same four groups are the Republican coalition.

Inside the Republican Party, the first thing that jumps out is that Populist Right and Faith and Flag Conservatives are now at 23% each within the Republican coalition while Committed Conservatives are 15%. The paleocons and populists are much stronger now which is undoubtedly due to the fact that Trump found and won over more White working class rural voters in 2020.

There is now a fifth group called Stressed Sideliners which occupies the very center of the electorate who are financially downbeat, more socially conservative Independents who have no partisan lean.

The Populist Right is now the dominant wing of the GOP.

Guess what? This faction is defined by thinking the decline of White people is bad for society, strong anti-immigration views, extremely negative views about corporate power, corruption and distrust of institutions. They tend to be White working class Protestants who live in rural areas. Interestingly, these are all views which are the traditional hallmarks of White Nationalists. The “far right” is now just the Republican base which wasn’t the case ten years ago or even five years ago.

Pew Research Center:

“Very conservative and overwhelmingly Republican, Populist Right hold highly restrictive views about immigration policy and are very critical of government. But, in contrast to other parts of the GOP coalition, their criticism extends well beyond government to views of big business and to the economic system as a whole: 82% say that large corporations are having a negative impact on the way things are going in the country, and nearly half support higher taxes on the wealthy and on large corporations.

Like the other two deeply ideologically conservative typology groups, Populist Right are overwhelmingly White (85%). However, in contrast to these groups, a majority of Populist Right are women (54%). Populist Right are also one of the least highly educated groups; just two-in-ten are college graduates.

Populist Right are among the groups most likely to say that illegal immigration is a very big problem in the country today, and nearly half (48%) say that the number of legal immigrants admitted to the U.S. should decrease. They hold very positive attitudes about former President Donald Trump. About eight-in-ten say they feel warmly toward Trump, and six-in-ten say they feel very warmly toward him. A majority (57%) also say Trump should run for president again in 2024. …”

As for the “culture war bullshit,” the dominant group on the Right now has a similar view of taxation and corporate power as the Progressive Left. Isn’t this a hilarious self own? The Populist Right aka MAGA were largely Democrats as recently as the 2012 election.

Who is the Center these days?

It is the Democrat Leaning Working Class (DLWC) vote. It is working class people without college degrees who are financially stressed who are Independent voters.

Pew Research Center:

“Stressed Sideliners are generally disconnected from politics and the two major parties, voting at lower rates than most other typology groups. Although Stressed Sideliners make up 15% of American adults, they were just 10% of 2020 voters due to their relatively low turnout rate. Still, they represent substantial shares of both parties’ coalitions.

Stressed Sideliners are split evenly between those who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party (45%) and those who are Democrats or Democratic leaners (an identical 45%). One-in-ten say they don’t lean toward either party. While they tend to fall close to the average American on many issues, they lean liberal on economic issues and tilt conservative on some social issues.

A large majority (83%) say the economic system in this country unfairly favors the powerful, and about three-quarters (74%) favor raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Roughly a third of Stressed Sideliners (35%) say that same-sex marriage being legal in the United States is bad for society, compared with 26% who say this is good (39% say it is neither good nor bad for society).

About four-in-ten Stressed Sideliners (43%) live in lower-income households, higher than most other political typology groups. And they are the group most likely to describe their personal financial situation as only fair or poor (63% say this). Stressed Sideliners are also one of the least highly educated groups. …

A majority of Stressed Sideliners (56%) are women. Roughly six-in-ten (57%) are White, while 21% are Hispanic, 10% are Black and 5% are Asian. They generally look similar to U.S. adults overall in terms of age: 18% are under the age of 30, 34% are between 30 and 49, 31% are 50 to 64, and 17% are 65 and older. Stressed Sideliners’ religious affiliation and practices largely parallel the population as a whole.

Stressed Sideliners have less formal educational experience and lower household incomes than other groups. Nearly half (48%) have only a high school diploma or less education, while 29% have some college experience but no degree and 22% have a college degree. About one-in-four (43%) live in lower-income households, with just 10% living in upper-income households. And Stressed Sideliners are the most likely of any group to say they don’t have a savings account; a third of this group says this. …”

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