Reason-Rupe Poll Finds 24 Percent of Americans are Economically Conservative and Socially Liberal, 28 Percent Liberal, 28 Percent Conservative, and 20 Percent Communitarian

ABC News Analyst Matthew Dowd recently highlighted a puzzling fact about the American electorate: nearly 51 percent are neither conventional conservatives nor are they conventional liberals. He concludes that the 51 percent must be a “mishmash of independents, and not ideological members of either political party.” The latest Reason-Rupe poll results help identify those Americans who do not fit the conventional liberal-conservative mold.

The Reason-Rupe poll finds that about 24 percent of the electorate consists of small government types: They want government to be less involved in both economic and social issues. Roughly, they could be labeled the “libertarian group." About 20 percent of the electorate, labeled “communitarian,” prefer government to be involved in both economic and social issues. Conventional American liberals, who are economically and socially liberal, make up 28 percent, and American conservatives, who are economically and socially conservative, make up another 28 percent.

Gallup also used a similar grouping method, finding nearly identical results: It found a libertarian group that wants to “keep it small” at 22 percent of the electorate; liberals, or “Obama liberals,” at 24 percent; conservatives, dubbed “Morality first,” at 17 percent; and communitarians, labeled “the bigger the better,” at 20 percent. Gallup also included a fifth group, the “mushy middle” at 17 percent.

Source: Gallup Poll

Methodology: 

These four political groups were determined using standard “role of government” questions to understand respondents’ preference for government action in both social and economic issues, as well as their preference for a more activist or limited government overall. The questions are below:

Q51  “The less government the better”; OR, “there are more things that government should be doing.”

Q52 “The government should be doing more to regulate businesses”; OR, “Too often, government regulation of businesses does more harm than good.”

Q53 “We need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems”; OR, “People would be better able to handle today’s problems within a free market with less government involvement.”

Q54 Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?

Different Ways To Cut It: Similar Results

There are several ways to use standard role of government questions to determine the percentages of the four groups. Using different combinations produces nearly the same results. You can see the results of using different combinations below:

In conclusion, ABC News’ Matthew Dowd, Gallup, and the Reason-Rupe Poll findings together demonstrate a substantially more nuanced view of the American electorate. Americans cannot easily be bundled into either the “liberal” or “conservative” groups, and to do so would be to underestimate the potential for a majority of Americans to provide substantial support for non-conventional candidates.

For more discussion of ideological groups in American politics, please click here.

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Click here for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll’s fieldwork. View full methodology.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    So we have a plurality for less government in the economy and less government socially.

    Also is it ok to call the communitarians fascists?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Joshua Corning,

    Also is it ok to call the communitarians fascists?


    No, of course not! Fascists accept some private ownership of businesses and land, doling out favors to keep power. Communitarians are nothing more than Goddamned thieves who want my stuff.

  • Tony||

    If you were smarter you'd know that you shared more in common with communitarians than you'd like to admit. But you're not so you think anarchy and strong property rights can go together.

  • ||

    Property rights are, by definition, at the apogee of their strength under anarchy because, inter alia, they are not under constant attack from thugs with guns and tazers and military assault vehicles.

  • Tony||

    Why not? Gentleman's agreement?

  • Joe M||

    Well, they are, but you get to shoot back. ;)

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Given Tony's dim views on property rights, the First Amendment, and capitalism...

  • ||

    Interesting. MNG's been using the word "apogee" a lot today too.

  • SIV||

    It must be an anti-semitic thing ;-)

  • Greamen||

    With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement? My site has a lot of exclusive content I've both written myself or outsourced but it looks like a number of it is popping it up all over the internet with out my agreement.
    http://octavinsu.blogspot.com/.....nesia.html

  • Joe M||

    So why does that quarter of the population seem to have no influence? Annoying!

  • Mainstream Media||

    Why would you ask such a question?

    There is nothing to see here, move along.

  • the feds||

    Why indeed...

    Better put that guy on the watch list.

  • Greamen||

    Hi there! Somebody in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to take a look. I am definitely loving the information. http://octavinsu.blogspot.com/.....ows-8.html

  • Joe M||

    If you look at the RR breakdown, libertarians could, in theory, get just about everything they wanted; if they were able to work together with either conservatives or liberals as needed, it looks like on any particular issue they would have a slim majority.

  • ||

    The only problem is that those in government tend not to be those who think government should screw off. A plurality of Americans do.

  • Greamen||

    I am book- marking and will likely be tweeting this to my followers! Fantastic weblog and superb style and design.
    http://update-seputar-software....._7534.html

  • ||

    If either party aligned with libertarians on something they normally don't, they'd lose more members than they'd gain.

  • Joe M||

    Well yeah, but assuming elected "conservatives" were actually in favor of economic freedom, libertarians could work with them on those issues, and they wouldn't lose their usual fiscal conservative voters. Likewise with liberals. The problem, of course, is that a large chunk of those two groups aren't even really in favor of the freedoms they are supposed to be.

  • sailor||

    If we had a multiparty legislature that would be true, but we don't, we have two parties.

    It would also work if we had say the House handle all fiscal issues and the Senate handle everything else. Then the libertarian swing vote could ensure the election of a Republican majority in the House and a Democratic majority in the Senate. But that isn't how things are. We have to vote for one set of politicians to handle both social and fiscal issues.

  • robc||

    Repeal the 17th amendment and STV (single transferable vote) for the house by state.

    Sure, it doesnt affect Wyoming at all, but California would be real interesting.

  • robc||

    Actually, would affect Wyoming a little.

  • Pinkie Pie||

    Yaknow what would make the political system super-duper betterer? More Parties!!!

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Arguments of anarchy vs. minarchy aside, I'm less optimistic about the results here. It looks like fully 76% of people polled want to expand government power in one way or another.

    That seems like mediocre odds to me.

  • Robert||

    Consider that we got to the status quo with the people we have, so what makes you think 76% want to expand gov't power more rather than its being 0-based? You have to answer a lot of questions pro-gov't-power just to keep thing the way they are rather than shifting towards less gov't power.

  • ||

    Jesus Christ ... so 76% of the population want to use the government to tell me how to live my life?

    I mean, "government should not favor any particular set of values" is a total misnomer. Liberals use economic controls to favor their values all the time.

    This is freaking depressing.

  • Joe M||

    No, values is all about JEEZUS. Getting people to use favored green technology is just right. See?

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    ^^^This. Which is why I suspect a large portion of the libertarian group would end up in one of the other camps, if the poll drilled down to specific issues rather than dealing in generalities. It's only about "values" when it's somebody else's values.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    If Big Sis and [insert any random powerful Team Red minion] had their way, libertarians would be in "camps", all right...

  • ranting ranter||

    yeah just keep believing that. Its the key to partisanship working after all. You can forgive any weakness in one side as long as the "other side" is really secret NAZIS. Also works with RACIST.

    Seriously though, when team red had hegemonic control of the govt, they didn't become "extreme right wing" (as defined by liberal academics who stick fascists in the extreme right wing as it coincidentally the farthest place from liberal academics). No instead they became democrats.

  • ||

    I would like to find one of these "communitarians" (doesn't matter who, the closest one will do) and punch the stupid out of them.

  • mr simple||

    That's a lot of punchin'.

  • SIV||

    A sap, or better yet a ball-peen hammer, would reduce the time and motion of such a task.

  • Doctor Whom||

    You're going to punch the entire population of Maryland and D.C., plus a hefty chunk of Virginia? Have fun.

  • ||

    Hey, it's only most of Maryland.

    Gimmee a heads up before that starts, kay?

  • Franklin Harris||

    Have you tried Connecticut? The state that keeps reelecting Joe Lieberman is a pretty good place to start.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I would like to find one of these "communitarians" (doesn't matter who, the closest one will do) and punch the stupid out of them.

    If you ever do this, Dagny, please let the board know beforehand. Your bail will be there before you arrive at the jail.

  • Robert||

    I'm sure you see those people all the time, and don't think they're stupid. You just have disagreements with them about things you never asked them about, and I'm sure lots of other things that neither of you would ever think of asking about, and which is mostly none of your business anyway. Is that a reason to get all punchy-nosy about anything?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't care for libertarian color in that pie chart. I find it off-putting.

  • ||

    Yes, I agree. We should get that cool steel blue color the liberals got. While we're at it, we should get back our liberal label, too.

  • Greamen||

    Amazing blog! Do you could have any tips for aspiring writers? I am planning to start my very own blog quickly however I'm a bit of misplaced on everything.
    http://octavinsu.blogspot.com/.....-aman.html

  • Mainer||

    I like it...chartreuse is a smug color, donchathink ?

  • CE||

    Communitarians should get the sickly green. Libertarians should be gold.

  • JD||

    Shouldn't the communitarians be red?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Libertarians should be gold.

    Competing colors, dude. Gold, Silver, Platinum, they're all good.

  • Random Jerk||

    if we could just educate these "liberals" on economic issues (capitalism), and convince more "conservatives" to live and let live (federalism), we'd find a significant plurality in coalition for smaller government.

  • ||

    federalism isn't about living and let living. it's about recognizing that MOST of the shit doesn't fall under federal jurisdiction.

    those are not the same things

  • Libertarian2||

    Twenty-four percent libertarians? That's hard to believe. I work with roughly 25 people, and no one comes close to my ideology. So, my unscientific survey is that 4% is closer to the truth. My guess is that people say they want smaller government, but then turn around and say we need to spend more on the military, or some such thing, when it comes to specifics.

  • ||

    This. Plenty of people will agree that government is out of control in general, but talk about their pet issue and the rat in the pudding is revealed.

  • Roger Murdock||

    The same relationship exists between polls showing lack of congressional approval and the staggering 90‰ plus retention of incumbents.

  • Warty||

    rat in the pudding

    This is an excellent saying. Is it a common Canadianism?

  • ||

    I think I read it somewhere but can't remember/Google where.

  • ||

    It's a Britishism that is occasionally used in English-speaking Canada.

    More often, we use the American equivalent "I smell a rat."

  • ||

    Thinking a little more about it, 'fly in the ointment" is closer.

  • Almanian||

    Excellent album title for my next release from my brother's band...

    Modern Druids
    "Rat in the Pudding"

    Positively flows

  • ||

    Don't they eat rat pudding up there?

  • ||

    "You can never have too many rats. They are so tasty, you know."
    If my memory serves me, this is a paraphrase from a tv program I saw. The comment came from some tribesman. His family clan (a large group) made a living by driving rats out of crop fields, into enclosures where they beat the rats to death. They were paid for their services and often got to eat the rats as well.

  • Warty||

    I remember seeing something like that. Eating a field rat seems about the same as eating a squirrel. Not too gross, really.

    Eating the rats I see flattened on the streets here, that would be a little different.

  • The Rat Sketch excerpt||

    eichstag bathroom in purples and golds and ban abortion on demand.
    Woman (Switching the radio off) Liberal rubbish. Klaus ...What do you want with your jugged fish?
    Man Halibut.
    Woman The jugged fish is halibut.
    Man Well, what fish have you got that isn't jugged?
    Woman Rabbit.
    Man What? Rabbit fish?
    Woman Yes. It's got fins.
    Man Is it dead?
    Woman Well, it was coughing up blood last night.
    Man All right I'll have the dead unjugged rabbit fish.
    CAPTION: 'ONE DEAD UNJUGGED RABBIT FISH LATER'
    Man Well that was really horrible.
    Woman You're always complaining.
    Man What's for afters?
    Woman Well there's rat cake ... rat sorbet ... rat pudding ... or strawberry tart.
    Man Strawberry tart?!
    Woman Well, it's got some rat in it.
    Man How much?
    Woman Three (rather a lot really).
    Man ... well, I'll have a slice without so much rat in it.
    CAPTION: 'ONE SLICE OF STRAWBERRY TART WITHOUT SO MUCH RAT IN IT LATER'
    Man Appalling.
    Woman Moan, moan, moan.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    Indeed. I talk with conservatives and they want government to waste money on defense, secure the border, hunt down illegals and drug people and lock up everybody who does not think like them, etc etc etc .. Then I talk with liberals and they want freebees: housing, health care, education, a dole, more govt supported jobs, day care, etc etc etc. In the end it is hard to find all that many who just want less and less in an honest fashion: they want less of what the other side wants and more of what they want.... The only people who seem truly libertarian are the off the grid types who really just want to be left alone. But many of them are just crazy.

  • Robert||

    When they say they want smaller gov't, they mean they want smaller gov't than they think the avg. person wants. Everything is comparative.

  • tased and confused||

    I have a big problem with the wording of Q54 as it presumes that there are not people actively and aggressively using the power of government to promote non-traditional values. Think CA's recent move to teach "Gay History" in K-12.

    Also, I've always thought of Communitarians as wanting to create "designed communities", not necessarily promote traditional values. I confess, though, that I haven't picked up an issue of the Utne Reader in quite some time and definitions do change.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Yes, there's a substantial group who believe that traditional mores (values, if you insist) are oppressive (patriarchal families lead to fascism!), and that the government has to wipe out this oppression.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    When these folks try to use the government to promote "alternative," "non-traditional" values, and when conservative people try to resist, then immediately it's like, "OMG, these conservative fascists are introducing divisive cultural issues into politics!"

    So if, for example, the federal government requires insurance policies to cover contraceptives, and some conservatives object, it's all, "why are these fascists so obsessed with contraceptives? Why are they debating this issue all of a sudden, hmmm?"

  • Colin||

    In somewhat related news, Gary Johnson's now polling at 2% according to CNN, ahead of both Huntsman and Santorum.

    Maybe they'll invite him to the next debate.

    Then again, maybe not.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Heh. Maybe not?

    I appreciate optimism.

  • Federal Dog||

    "About 20 percent of the electorate, labeled “communitarian,” prefer government to be involved in both economic and social issues."

    In which case, they are governmentalists.

    There is nothing "communitarian" about demanding government control of economic and social issues: On that model of social control, the community is irrelevant, except as an object of government force.

  • Mainer||

    yeah, I noticed that "communitarian" has a PC ring to it.

  • Warty||

    They are slavers.

  • ||

    Efutue, servus dominum!

  • robc||

    Google translate says:

    Efutue, a servant of the Lord!

  • ||

    They've got a long, long way to go.

  • ||

    They took the terms for the other three groups straight from the Nolan chart, but switched the name of the "authoritarian" group on the bottom of the NC to "communitarian". Probably to sound less confrontational.

  • Robert||

    No, they probably did it to seem more accurate. When Maddox & Lilie did their study of Americans >30 YA, they labeled the quadrants "liberal", "conservative", "libertarian", and "populist". They used that last label because they believed all 4 tendencies are derived from an original American liberalism, and because there was no popular American tendency corresponding to the truly authoritarian communist, fascist, dirigiste, etc. movements of Europe, they chose "populist" to reflect a thematic cx to the populism of the People's Party of the late 19th C.

  • softy||

    Oh God ... so much history ... head exploding! BLAHSQUISH!

  • SIV||

    Were you sleeping during the mid 90s?
    Communitarian=authoritarian. Fiscally liberal AND socially conservative, and not the constitutionalist-fundamentalist SoCons you hate on the right.

  • ||

    I believe the Clintons claim to be "communitarians", or have mentioned this as a philosophy. Whatever the roots of the word, when I hear "communitarian" I hear "governmentalist thief". Use whatever word you want. :-)

  • sarcasmic||

    Communitarian means they see no distinction between community and government.
    "We are government. If you vote then you are government. If you don't want government to do something, then you do not want it to be done. After all, without threat of violence, how would anything ever get done?"

  • Steve||

    I think that if the poll included subdivisions for national, state, and local levels, a lot more people would be libertarian at the national level and possibly less at the local level. I don't want the federal government to do things that I would be fine with my state and local government doing.

  • ||

    Communitarians sure sound like every liberal I know, and the worst of lot too. They're completely unaware that the false compassion they advocate is little more than advocating a police state.

    If there was one group that needs to see the violence inherent in the system, up close and personal, it's them.

  • Geotpf||

    Um, no.

    Stereotypical liberals would be in favor of things like legalizing gay marriage or medical MJ. A "communitarian" would not be.

  • ||

    I think you need re-read the chart. Nary a word about ending the WoD.

    And I will reiterate that statists, which includes conservatives, should be brutalized yearly by the state they so proudly love in a most ironic fashion.

  • ||

    Sorry, I was being rushed, let me expand on that....

    Those who said that the government should not favor any particular set of values while agreeing to the other 3 statist statements are full of shit. Of course they want the govt to favor a particular set of values: theirs.

    They want Obama to rule unilaterally. They want dissenting voices to be silenced. They want wealth to be extracted from the "rich," so that it can benefit them and their favored interests. They want the owners of private businesses to cow-tow to their lifestyle choices. They want *their* values taught in school. They want things to be neat and tidy and convenient, no matter the cost.

    On top of that, it's delusional to want an expansive state to control all things economic and not expect it to try and control all things social as well. That's what we have now. How's that working out?

  • SIV||

    I'd think a communatarian would supporrt gay marriage while cracking down on "traditional gay culture". Medical MJ? You'd be lucky to get "medical Tramodol".

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Fuck communitarians.

  • SIV||

    Fucking is too good for them.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I wouldn't want to use a communitarian condom, that's for true.

  • CE||

    The Reason-Rupe poll finds that about 24 percent of the electorate consists of small government types: They want government to be less involved in both economic and social issues. Roughly, they could be labeled the “libertarian group."

    Or as the Democrats and Republicans in power refer to them, "non-voters".

  • ralph||

    Thanks for the article.

    For info on people using voluntary Libertarian tools on similar and other issues, please see http://www.Libertarian-International.org , the non-partisan Libertarian International Organization, which first reported all this in 2000.

  • Doug||

    But since it's damned near impossible for the control freaks to play the left-vs-right/up-vs-down/black-vs-white/i'm-right-vs-your-fucking-stupid card to manipulate four groups, the two-party system stays intact.

  • MNG||

    I'll grant that liberals want more government involvement in economic matters than conservatives, but I think the meme that liberals just love government and want it stronger, ever stronger is flat wrong.

    Probably the apogee of liberalism was something like the Warren Court. It would be very hard to argue that the court always sided with government. It ruled against government-led prayer and forcing individuals to pledge allegiance to the government, ruled against many commonly used governmental investigative law enforcement techniques, forced states to provide legal assistance to individuals facing prosecution by the government, loosened standing requirements which allowed citizens to more easily sue their government, created causes of action like Bivens actions which allowed citizens to sue federal agents which violated their rights, etc.

    I guess you couldn't put it past some people here to try to spin all that as pro-government, but that much spin would create quite the tornado.

  • MNG||

    One clarification: the Bivens suit was created in 1971 under the then Burger court. However if you look at the justices on the majority they were Warren Court liberal leftovers (Brennan, joined by Douglas, Stewart, White, Marshall w/ Harlan concurring)

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The flag-salute case was decided before Warren was on the court; the Bivens case was after he left.

    The Warren Court (admittedly over Warren's dissent) also said that someone who recently moved to a state was entitled to the same level of welfare benefits as a long-term resident; otherwise it would violate the "right to travel," don't you see!

  • MNG||

    Yes, the flag salute case was before Warren. Here was the majority:

    Jackson, joined by Stone, Black, Douglas, Murphy, Rutledge

    If you want to argue these weren't the liberals on the Court by all means. All were appointed by FDR (Stone was appointed pre-FDR but FDR elevated him to CJ).

    Interestingly the case you cite is yet another example of the court holding against a government and for an individual, the government of that state was the other party.

    Nice try though!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I only said it wasn't the Warren Court.

    The entire court in the flag-salute case was made up of liberal, including the dissenting Justice Frankfurter. You may as well say that all the *male* justices joined the majority.

  • ||

    It ruled against government-led prayer and forcing individuals to pledge allegiance to the government

    Those wouldn't even be issues if we had school choice, friend.

    The rest of that stuff is nice, but the stuff liberals in power have done since then been almost uniformly pro-government (and in particular pro-federal-govt).

  • six of one||

    "It would be very hard to argue that the court always sided with government. It ruled against government-led prayer"

    Eliminating religious authority creates a vacuum into which the government can step. Suppressing public expressions of religion most certainly does further the interests of a secularized government.

    "It ruled against ... forcing individuals to pledge allegiance to the government flag representing the nation"

    FIFY. Real commies claim to hate nationalism. National loyalties are barriers to creating a worldwide empire.

    "ruled against many commonly used governmental investigative law enforcement techniques, forced states to provide legal assistance to individuals facing prosecution by the government, loosened standing requirements which allowed citizens to more easily sue their government, created causes of action like Bivens actions which allowed citizens to sue federal agents which violated their rights, etc."

    Making it harder to find and prosecute criminals increases lawlessness and societal chaos, which, of course, leads to calls for greater police action.

    Fucking up society is what liberals do. The end result is always an insistence that only more government will solve the problems created.

  • MNG||

    I imagine the time from when FDR shaped the SCOTUS to the Burger court was probably the worst time for goverments being sued by individuals alleging the governments were violating their rights. Like I said, I'm sure some here would try to spin that as pro-goverment, but that's a mighty wind kicked up by that much spin...

  • ||

    I see that you switched the "authoritarian" of the Nolan chart to "communitarian". Very slick.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Like there's a difference?

  • Robert||

    Yes, there is. Cf. European authoritarians. I don't mean just a few academics, nor something left behind in history; I mean contemporary movements with a significant following. They're not much like American communitarians.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    We're talking American communitarians and authoritarians, though admittedly Team Red has more than enough of the latter as well.

  • Robert||

    The point is, the closest popular tendency in America to authoritarianism isn't truly authoritarian, as they are in Europe, so "communitarian" is a more accurate way to put it.

  • wef||

    42 porciento los serviles

    tan poco

    no puedo creerlo

  • Mensan||

    I really hate when libertarians are described as fiscally conservative and socially liberal. We're actually liberal on both fronts, but the liberals have so corrupted that word that it no longer holds any coherent meaning for most people.

    This is why I often find myself explaining to people that conservative and liberal are not at opposite ends of the political spectrum, but are both incongruous amalgamations of libertarian and statist ideologies.

  • ||

    libertarians are not necessarily socially liberal.

    they don't believe govt. should be legislating X (social shit of whatever sort).

    it does not therefore follow they believe X is in any way a good, or should even be tolerated by society, merely that GOVERNMENT should not have the power to prohibit it. shunning, boycotts, criticism etc. would be fine.

    that's also, to an extent, the difference between libertinism and libertarianism.

    saying that govt. should not proscribe X is not really being socially liberal. socially liberal is (generally) saying "X is ok. it's a valid choice. you shouldn't be judged on it"

    that's more the liberal take.

    sure, there are to some extent, principled liberals who believe govt. should stay out of X because it's not govt.'s JOB to legislate X, but ime, liberals usually think govt. should stay out of X, because X is not a bad thing.

    again, we can find exceptions and gradations, but i have a problem with the "socially liberal" thing, because it's not true.

    a libertarian can (and i have a good friend who is this way) quite socially conservative, but also quite libertarian.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    libertarians are not necessarily socially liberal.

    they don't believe govt. should be legislating X (social shit of whatever sort).

    Haha! You've apparently never been around here for a gay marriage debate!

    The values question was a stupid question anyway. By definition law codifies values. You have to wonder how many of those people who responded that government shouldn't be regulating values were thinking about Sharia honor killings when they answered. I suspect not a few of them would have responded differently had that been on the table.

  • ||

    iirc, on the gay marriage thang, the general reasonoid idea was that govt. should not be legislating marriage at all, apart from allowing contracts, just like with everything else.

    mego on that thread, though, so i could be wrong

  • typical libertarian||

    as a libertarian, i salute your refusal to use the shift key. that's freedom, my friend. don't be bound by petty bourgeois rules of capitalization.

  • Robert||

    These 2-axis studies are interesting of course, and have been done for over 30 yrs. (in the USA at least), but they're limited by having the contents of the measuring axes decided in advance, and then respondents measured by criteria that've already been pigeonholed by the study makers. I think cluster analysis based studies like the Times Mirror typologies, where the studiers look for correlated groupings of answers even if they don't fit the neat categories decided in advance.

    I don't think most people arrive at the answers to these poll questions based on orientation to how big gov't should be in one dimension or two. They may have all kinds of different primary orientations based on thinking that may be very different from anything the study makers might focus on in advance.

    Of course all these typings, regardless of whether the methodology is of the cluster analysis or predetermined scale type, still have the defect of asking questions that people might not think the most important, or that fail to reveal correlations that exist but that nobody has a clue to in advance. Just to pick out of my hat, there may be correlations between right- and left-handedness, belief or disbelief in the extraterrestrial hypothesis of UFOs, and opinion on whether gov't schools should teach more biology and less Spanish, but if those questions are never asked, nobody finds out.

  • BakedPenguin||

    You can pick at these polls incessantly. Are the questions too general? Should they include samples question(s) that would give the interviewee a basis for clarification?

    For example, "[g]overnment should not favor any particular set of values" could be followed up with (if "yes") "so you believe the government should continue its strict enforcement of laws against illegal drugs?" (or vice versa).

    To address you specific point, a more open ended question, such as "what is [are] the most important value[s] the government should [or should not] enforce?" could provide some interesting responses.

  • Robert||

    Open ended questions give the most interesting answers, but are hardest to aggregate objectively for quantif'n.

  • ||

    25 percent of cable television consumers only watch The Smithsonian Network, CSpan and Blooomberg News.
    People think their they are substantive, but their habits prove otherwise. Americans are more accepting of libertarian ideology, but let's not get carried away.
    I've always thought the only good thing about George Bush an Barack Obama is the frustation the country will have with the two party system. we'll see if it sticks.

  • Parky Bill||

    A tiny central government? How about NO central government? What could POSSIBLY go wrong. It worked QUITE well in Somalia and Afghanistan!

    http://bit.ly/onK0PH

  • Luxie||

  • ocim||

    I am also commenting to make you be aware of of the extraordinary encounter my friend's daughter obtained checking your web site Berita Terbaru - Berita Terkini.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement