Five Tribes of American Voters Reply

This research more or less confirms the findings of the “Hidden Tribes” researchers with some slight variations.

By Carl M. Cannon

Real Clear Politics

“Every difference of opinion,” Thomas Jefferson warned in his first inaugural address, “is not a difference of principle.” Speaking to his countrymen after an election every bit as bitter as the one that put Donald J. Trump in the White House, Jefferson was trying to soothe the reigning animosity between the nation’s two dominant political parties. “We are all Republicans,” he added. “We are all Federalists.”

Not anymore. In 21st century America, any notion that election results end the argument, however temporarily, is an anachronism. So, too, is the conceit that a nation this large and diverse is divided neatly along “50-50” lines, with half of America’s 253 million adults supporting Democrats, and the other half backing Republicans.

Today, slightly more than one-fourth of registered voters in the United States have political views and social attitudes placing them in the camp of the “Resistance” — to President Trump and the Trump-era Republican Party.

This is one of the five American “tribes” identified in a sweeping new public opinion survey conducted by RealClear Opinion Research, a new service offered by RealClearPolitics. The survey of 2,463 registered voters, conducted Sept. 18-28, was overseen by John Della Volpe, co-founder of SocialSphere Inc., a public opinion and analytics firm based in Cambridge, Mass.

On the other side of the spectrum are two “tribes” of Trump voters, roughly evenly divided, which together make up another quarter of the electorate. One of these groups (12 percent) is the Trump base — the “Make America Great Again” crowd that attends his rallies and idolizes his brand of conservative populism. The other (14 percent) consists of traditional Republicans with less edgy views on issues ranging from trade to immigration to race relations.

A fourth group, which Della Volpe has dubbed “The Detached,” is even harder to peg. This segment is the youngest of the five, and the most male. They tend to be disillusioned, even disgusted, by party politics, and represent 24 percent of registered voters in the United States.

A fifth cohort, the “Independent Blues,” is the most pivotal group. In 2016 they cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton by a 12-percentage-point margin, and their skepticism toward Republicans has only grown in the ensuing two years. Just 16 percent of them say there is a strong likelihood they’ll vote for Donald Trump in 2020. By a margin of 47 percent to 28 percent they express a preference for a Democratic-controlled Congress.

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