The GOP's base stands conspicuously apart from the American public on issues including global warming, the fairness of the economic system and the need for diplomacy, according to a report released last week, while Democratic stalwarts are alone in their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and their belief in the severity of racial discrimination.
The report, released Thursday by Pew Research, divides Americans into eight ideological groups across the political spectrum, as seen in the table below:
According to the report, there are only a few issues that unite members of all eight groups, and many of them are rooted in a sense of skepticism and disenfranchisement. About three-quarters of Americans don't trust Washington, and an equal number believe Americans shouldn't have to give up privacy and freedom in order to be safe from terrorism. Sixty-two percent of Americans say they're mostly frustrated by the federal government.
The report also highlights some of the issues where one party's base is out of step not only with their opponents, but also with the wide majority of Americans in every other group, including the potentially persuadable blocs near the center.
The two groups that make up the Republican base -- socially right-wing "steadfast conservatives" and pro-Wall Street "business conservatives" -- are the only ones to disbelieve global warming, and the only ones to say protecting the environment and developing alternate energy sources aren't important priorities. People in these groups are less likely to support diplomacy abroad or affirmative action at home, and less likely to say that laws are sometimes necessary to protect people from themselves.
On a few other issues, business conservatives are even more alone: They're the only group who believe the largest companies don't have too much power, and they're about split on considering cuts to Social Security, something that everyone else widely opposes. While 67 percent of business conservatives believe the nation's economic system is fair to most people, 62 percent of Americans overall think the system unfairly favors the powerful -- a disconnect that Democrats hope to highlight in the months leading up to the November midterm elections.
Steadfast conservatives, meanwhile, are the only group to say they'd prefer elected officials to stick to their positions rather than compromise.
Compared with the American public, the Democratic base of "solid liberals" is more secular and less overtly patriotic. They're also the only group to believe that "racial discrimination is the main barrier to black progress." As the report notes, just one-third of the "faith and family left," a more racially diverse group than the solid liberals, sees racial discrimination as the central obstacle to the black community.
And while solid liberals hew more closely to the mainstream on broad environmental issues than members of the Republican base, they're the only ones to substantially oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, which has support of about 60 percent or more among every other group.
Pew surveyed 10,013 adults by phone Jan. 23 through March 16, calling both landlines and cell phones, and reached an additional 3,308 adults through a panel between March and May.