Tag Archives: Pew Center

What’s A “Conservative?”

LOOKING BEHIND THE LABEL AT THE VOTERS WHO LABEL THEMSELVES 

Politics is all about labels – and one of the most popular labels in U.S. politics over the past few decades has been “conservative.”  What does it mean for a candidate or elected official to be “conservative?”  We’ll leave that to the pundits and – ultimately – to the voters to decide.  Our focus?  Learning more about voters who call themselves “conservative.”

Recently the Pew Center revealed five key facts about “consistent conservatives” – or the nine percent of the U.S. electorate (and 20 percent of the Republican Party electorate) occupying the ideological right flank of the center’s political polarization scale.

What are those facts?  According to the Pew Center’s Drew DeSilva, they are as follows …

1) ELEVATED POLITICAL PARTICIPATION

Nearly 80 percent of consistent conservatives “always vote,” and half have contacted an elected official within the past two years.  Meanwhile 26 percent have donated money, 24 percent have attended a political event and 12 percent have volunteered on a campaign.  Each of those numbers outpaces every other ideological group.

2) MAJOR MIDTERM INFLUENCE

Consistent conservatives comprised an estimated 17 percent of the midterm electorate in 2014.  Given that they constitute nine percent of likely voters, that level of turnout means they essentially doubled their impact on the race – which contributed mightily to the GOP sweep.

3) RURAL-MINDED

By a ten-to-one margin, consistent conservatives would rather live in a rural area than in a city – if it were up to them.  Forty-one percent chose a rural area compared to four percent who chose a city.  Meanwhile 35 percent said they would choose to live in a small town.  Conversely, 46 percent of consistent liberals said they would choose to live in a city compared to 11 percent who preferred a rural location.

4) RELIGION MATTERS

Nearly 60 percent of consistent conservatives said religious faith was an important trait to teach children.  That’s twice the average for all ideological groups – further proof social conservatism continues to be an important driver within the broader conservative movement.

5) MEDIA MATTERS

Forty-seven percent of consistent conservatives said Fox News was their main source of information about government and politics – nearly four times the average for all ideological groups.  Meanwhile 88 percent of consistent conservatives said they trusted Fox News – the highest score any outlet received from any group.  Also of note, 11 percent of consistent conservatives said local talk radio was their primary news source – nearly three times the average for all groups.

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