October 24, 2017

Political Typology Reveals Deep Fissures on the Right and Left

2. Views of the parties and political figures

The eight typology groups fall into four Republican-leaning groups and four Democratic-leaning groups. While each group has a partisan orientation, there are substantial intraparty divides in how these groups view the parties, the president and other political figures.

In the GOP coalition, Market Skeptic Republicans and New Era Enterprisers offer some criticism of the Republican Party and of Donald Trump, while Core Conservatives and Country First Conservatives tend to offer more positive evaluations of both.

The divides are less pronounced among Democratic-leaning groups – particularly in their evaluations of Trump. Still, Devout and Diverse diverge from the other groups in the coalition by expressing less negative views of Trump and less positive views of the Democratic Party.

Within partisan coalitions, some differences in views of the parties

Core Conservatives express the most positive attitudes about the Republican Party of any typology group. Among the other GOP-oriented groups, Market Skeptic Republicans offer the least positive assessments of the party.

Overall, 90% of Core Conservatives say the Republican Party represents their values very or somewhat well, along with 75% of Country First Conservatives. A smaller majority (61%) of Market Skeptic Republicans say this.

Only about half (51%) of Market Skeptic Republicans say the GOP cares about the middle class, compared with no less than seven-in-ten of those in other Republican-oriented groups.

While only 12% of Core Conservatives say that the Republican Party is too willing to cut government programs even when they have proven effective, the share saying this rises among other groups in the GOP coalition: 36% of Country First Conservatives say this, along with 46% of New Era Enterprisers and 49% of Market Skeptic Republicans.

Among Democratic-leaning groups, Solid Liberals are the most likely to say their values are at least somewhat well represented by the Democratic Party (90%).

On the other hand, only about half (49%) of Devout and Diverse feel similarly. About seven-in-ten of both Opportunity Democrats and Disaffected Democrats (72% and 70%, respectively) feel that the Democratic Party represents their values at least somewhat well.

There are relatively modest differences between the Democratic-leaning groups on other assessments of the party; most of those in all Democratic-leaning groups say the Democratic Party cares about the middle class, and majorities say the Democratic Party has high ethical standards.

While the criticism that the GOP is too willing to cut government programs has little resonance among Core Conservatives, 39% of Solid Liberals say the Democratic Party “too often sees government as the only way to solve problems.”

Market Skeptic Republicans stand out for their criticisms of both parties

While Market Skeptic Republicans generally say the GOP represents their values at least somewhat well, they stand out for their criticism of both political parties when it comes to caring about the middle class.

Nearly a third of Market Skeptic Republicans (31%) say the Republican Party cares about the middle class and the Democratic Party does not, while just 10% say the reverse.

But this is the typology group most likely to fault both parties on this measure: 35% of Market Skeptic Republicans say that neither the Democratic Party nor the GOP cares about the middle class. A relatively large share of New Era Enterprisers (41%), by contrast, say both parties care about the middle class; just 11% say neither party cares for the middle class.

How the typology groups see Trump

Among Republican-oriented groups, more than eight-in-ten of those in the two most conservative groups say they tend to agree with Donald Trump on many or all issues, though fewer than half of Core Conservatives (44%) and Country First Conservatives (41%) agree with Trump on “all or nearly all issues.”

The other GOP-oriented groups are more divided. Among Market Skeptic Republicans, 56% say they agree with Trump on many or all issues, while 40% say they agree with him on a few or no issues. New Era Enterprisers are roughly evenly divided: 47% say they agree with Trump on many or all issues, while 53% say they agree with him on few or almost no issues.

Among Democratic-leaning groups, more than nine-in-ten Solid Liberals (98%), Opportunity Democrats (93%) and Disaffected Democrats (91%) say they agree with Trump on only a few or no issues. A smaller – though still clear – majority of Devout and Diverse (74%) also say this.

In general, just 16% of the public likes the way that Trump conducts himself as president, while an additional 25% say they have mixed feelings and 58% do not like his conduct.

Trump receives his highest marks on this score from the two conservative groups: 51% of Country First Conservatives and 41% of Core Conservatives say they like Trump’s conduct, while only about a quarter in the other Republican-oriented groups say this. Among Market Skeptic Republicans, about half (49%) say they have mixed feelings about Trump’s conduct as president, while 26% say they dislike it. The share of New Era Enterprisers expressing dislike of Trump’s conduct is even higher (39%).

Dislike for Trump’s conduct is overwhelming in three of the four Democratic-leaning groups: Solid Liberals almost universally (98%) hold this opinion, and large majorities of Disaffected Democrats and Opportunity Democrats (89% and 86%, respectively) don’t like Trump’s conduct. While few Devout and Diverse like Trump’s conduct (10%), their assessments are somewhat less negative: 52% say they don’t like how he comports himself, while 34% say they have mixed feelings.

Among GOP-oriented groups, Core Conservatives and Country First Conservatives also are significantly more likely to ascribe positive traits – and less likely to ascribe negative traits – to Trump than other typology groups.

For example, though majorities of all four Republican groups say “intelligent” describes Donald Trump at least fairly well, about nine-in-ten Core Conservatives (95%) and Country First Conservatives (93%) say this, compared with 70% of New Era Enterprisers.

And while 86% of Core Conservatives and a similar share of Country First Conservatives (84%) say Trump is described very or fairly well as “honest,” that falls to a smaller majority (61%) among Market Skeptic Republicans and only about half (49%) for New Era Enterprisers.

A similar pattern is seen on negative traits. For example, about six-in-ten New Era Enterprisers (59%) and roughly half of Market Skeptic Republicans (51%) say “selfish” describes Trump at least fairly well, compared with only about a third of those in the two most conservative groups.

Overall, 58% of Republicans and Republican leaners say Trump should listen more to Republicans with governmental experience, while 34% say he should pay less attention to them. But these views differ across Republicans in GOP-oriented typology groups: Fully 77% of New Era Enterprisers say Trump should listen more to experienced Republicans, while just 40% of Core Conservatives say the same.

There is a similar – but more modest – pattern in views on whether Trump has changed the party for the better, worse or not much at all. About half of Core Conservatives (49%) say he has changed the party for the better, compared with a smaller share (37%) of New Era Enterprisers.

Favorability of leading political figures

Donald Trump receives his most favorable ratings from Core Conservatives and Country First Conservatives: Roughly nine-in-ten in both groups view him favorably. Smaller majorities of Market Skeptic Republicans and New Era Enterprisers (64% and 62%, respectively) give him positive ratings.

Overall, Vice President Mike Pence’s ratings among GOP-leaning groups roughly mirror Trump’s. However, Core Conservatives are more likely to be very favorable in their ratings of Pence than of Trump (50% rate Pence very favorably; 36% give Trump the same rating).

Across all four GOP-leaning typology groups, wide majorities express negative views of Hillary Clinton. And among the less conservative GOP groups, far more rate Clinton negatively than rate Trump positively. For example, while 64% of Market Skeptic Republicans have a favorable view of Trump, fully 84% have an unfavorable view of Clinton, including 65% who express a very unfavorable view for the former Democratic presidential nominee.

Barack Obama is also viewed unfavorably among most GOP groups, though views of the former president are less negative than views of Clinton. Among New Era Enterprisers, about as many have a favorable (51%) as unfavorable (45%) opinion of Obama.

Majorities across all Democratic-oriented groups express favorable views of both Obama and Clinton. However, across all groups, substantially larger shares view Obama positively than view Clinton positively.

Solid Liberals have almost unanimous (99%) unfavorable views of Trump, including fully 91% who express a very unfavorable view. Wide majorities of Opportunity Democrats (84%) and Disaffected Democrats (90%) also express negative views of Trump, including majorities who have very unfavorable views.

A narrower 63% majority of Devout and Diverse view Trump unfavorably.

Partisanship on a personal level

About six-in-ten Americans overall (59%) say that talking about politics with people who have different views of Donald Trump than they do is “stressful and frustrating.” A smaller share (35%) says that these conversations are “interesting and informative.”

On average, Democratic-oriented groups are more likely than Republican-oriented groups to say that discussing politics with people who have different opinions about the current Republican president are stressful and frustrating, with Solid Liberals particularly likely to say this.

The only typology groups where opinion is relatively evenly split are New Era Enterprisers (46% interesting and informative, 44% stressful and frustrating) and Devout and Diverse (43% vs. 50%). Compared with other groups, these groups stand out for their relatively low levels of political engagement.

In general, people tend to have more friends who share their partisan orientation than friends who do not, and this dynamic is seen across typology groups.

Roughly nine-in-ten Core Conservatives (88%) – who are near universally Republican or lean Republican – say they have at least some close Republican friends, while only 42% say they have at least some Democratic friends. The imbalance is even more pronounced among Country First Conservatives (68% to 24%) and Solid Liberals (94% say they have at least some Democratic friends, 29% at least some Republican friends).

New Era Enterprisers and Market Skeptic Republicans are slightly more likely than Core Conservatives to have Democratic friends, though this partly reflects the partisan composition of these groups (11% of Market Skeptic Republicans and 21% of New Era Enterprisers are Democrats or lean Democratic, compared with negligible shares of the conservative groups).

Among the Democratic-oriented groups, Opportunity Democrats stand out as being more likely to have at least some Republican friends (51% say this). Though partisan composition accounts for some of this (15% of Opportunity Democrats identify with or lean Republican), even among Democratic Opportunity Democrats, 47% have at least some GOP friends – substantially more than in the other Democratic-oriented groups.

Most Americans say that their friendships would not be affected by who their friends supported in the 2016 general election. Overall, Democrats are more likely to view a friends’ vote for Trump as a strain than Republicans are to say a friends’ vote for Clinton would strain a friendship.

Solid Liberals are particularly likely to say that a friendship would be strained if someone voted for Trump: 55% say this, along with 32% of Disaffected Democrats and smaller shares of other Democratic-leaning groups.

About one-in-five (19%) of both Core Conservatives and Country First Conservatives say a friend’s vote for Trump would strengthen their friendship, compared with smaller shares in other GOP-oriented groups. Roughly the same share of Solid Liberals (18%) say knowing a friend voted for Clinton would strengthen a friendship.