November 14, 1995

Energized Democrats Backing Clinton

About the Typology

The Times Mirror Center in 1987 developed a unique voter classification system based on three major elements — party affiliation, political participation, and personal values and attitudes — and using the statistical technique called “cluster analysis.” The new typology in 1995 is built on the same foundation, with minor modifications.

Nine values and attitudes were measured, including attitudes toward government, environmentalism, business, social welfare, social policy issues, religion, race relations, the military, and feelings of political alienation.

The analysis segmented the American public into ten groups — three Republican, four Democrat, and three in between:

The Divided Right

The Detached Center

The “Not So” Left

1996 Voting Blocs and the Typology

The typology gives us an opportunity to look at the structure of various sectors of the electorate. As was evident in the 1994 elections, the sum of an electoral group is often more powerful than its parts. In 1994, white males, talk radio listeners and conservative Christians turned out to vote in higher numbers and voted with greater unanimity than other voting blocs, and thus their impact on the election was substantial.

Some of the key voting blocs to watch in 1996 will be primary voters, talk radio listeners, and the Christian Right. The overwhelming majority of Republican primary voters (those who say they are “very likely” to vote in a primary in their state next year) are clustered in two typology groups. Forty percent of likely GOP primary voters are upscale, economically conservative Enterprisers, and an equal percentage (39%) are socially conservative, middle class Moralists. The battle over the Republican presidential nomination will likely be waged between these two GOP voting blocs, who at this point do not agree in their assessments of the Republican congressional agenda or the current Republican presidential field.

In recent years, talk radio has become a powerful tool for political expression and coalition building. The regular talk radio audience remains largely conservative. More than 20% of those who listen to talk radio regularly are Enterprisers; 14% are Moralists. However, more Democrats appear to be tuning into talk radio this year than last. In October 1994, just weeks before the November elections, only 7% of the regular talk radio audience consisted of New Democrats; today that number has nearly doubled to 15%. This moderate, middle class Democratic group makes up about 12% of the electorate and will be an important group to watch in 1996.

The Christian right could be another important swing group in the 1996 elections, particularly during the Republican nomination process. Nearly half (47%) of those Republicans who identify themselves as born again or Evangelical Christians, can be found among the ranks of the religious and culturally conservative Moralists. Forty percent are Enterprisers. Again these two groups have increasingly divergent attitudes toward their party’s social and political agenda. This schism may weaken the electoral strength of the Christian Right in the 1996 election.