Disproportionate Influence

The Pew Research Center recently published “Five Facts About Consistent Conservatives.” It explains a lot.

Some of what Pew’s research tells us is unsurprising: political participation is highest at the “poles”–both ideological liberals and ideological conservatives participate more than their less ideological fellow-citizens. The category they call “consistent conservative” is heavily dominated by rural folks. When it comes to raising children, conservatives prioritize responsibility, faith and hard work, with faith identified as particularly important; while responsibility led among all five of Pew’s ideological categories, religious faith was chosen by significantly more consistent conservatives than all other groups.

These findings tend to confirm what most observers would have expected. The surprise–at least, to me–came from the conclusion that “Consistent conservatives participate in politics at higher rates than most other ideological groups.”  

Half of consistent conservatives, for example, said they had contacted an elected official within the past two years – the highest level of any of our five groups. (The corresponding figure for all Americans, by the way, was 28%.) Consistent conservatives also ranked high on other measurements of political engagement, such as donating money (26%), attending campaign events (24%) and volunteering on a campaign (12%).

Those of us who wonder who elects the scientifically illiterate, the religiously intolerant “Christian Nation” folks, and the other assorted crazies have our answer.

As with so much of life, showing up matters.


  1. These findings tend to confirm what most observers would have expected. The surprise–at least, to me–came from the conclusion that “Consistent conservatives participate in politics at higher rates than most other ideological groups.”

    I do not find this surprising at all; to me it discribes all “staunch Republicans” and is proof of what I have said repeatedly about the November 4th election. It wasn’t the Republicans who elected all those Republicans who took over the Senate along with the House as they were acting true to form; it was the Democrats who do not consistently participate in politics. As for the comments regarding contacting elected officials and donating money; does the name Koch brothers ring a bell? I grew up in a staunch Republican family in a staunch Republican neighborhood; many of them (including family) have dropped me from their E-mail address book rather than consider a different view of the world – especially current conditions in this isolated state of Indiana and the country at large. My father died believing Nixon was a great president.

  2. I tend to frequently contact elected officials for my location to voice my opinion. It is quite obvious every time that they are not interested in any opinion, or even factual information, that doesn’t fall within their beliefs. On the 14th there will be some of those elected officials in town for a very rare visit with the public in our area. Of course, it is scheduled for an hour. Really??? A whole hour??? I will be there to ask some questions that will most likely make them uncomfortable in a public forum. My questions will undoubtedly make the Republican citizens squirm in their seats also. I find them to always be completely ignorant of any facts – they spout their beliefs based on propaganda that has been spread around.

  3. There are 4 branches of government.

    The Courts, the Legislative branch and the Executive.–that’s 3 /

    “We the People ” is #4. And the People created this mess mostly by not voting.

  4. Jo Ann Green–I have been gerrymandered into a district in which Don Lehe (rural White County) is my ‘rep,’ Hershmann (supposedly ‘farms’ for his mom) is my senator, and my district (solid red and no worries for re-election if there is an ‘R’ after their name, and our senators are coats and donnelly. First, look at the voting records including donnelly’s. ALL republican ‘a’ listers. Second, I am also told by the Indiana democratic party that real democrats can’t win in Indiana, so i am told to, out of loyalty, support donnelly democrats. Don’t blame the victim, Jo Ann. Voting doesn’t matter in Indiana. All the democratic areas have been tucked into solidly republican districts. For example, hershman lost to Thompson in several counties, but one look at the hershmann district tells you all you need to know about fair elections. Plus, to make sure nothing changes with the next census, Indiana is going to purge it’s voter rolls with a database that will throw your name out if it is the same as any other voter in the database, no questions asked.

  5. Glenda Ritz’ election does show that when elected officials become too intolerant of voters’ views and too heavily financed ‘to fail’, the voters do wake up and take control.
    Social media like this blog give us the ammunition.

  6. I completely agree with you “girl cousin”. Gerrymandering has completely shut out any potential competition against Republicans.

    Nancy Papas – we definitely voted Glenda Ritz into office, but it was with the help of the Teachers Union. I don’t think we could have voted out Bennet without the voice of a union. And ever since we voted her in Pence keeps stripping her of any power.

    In Indiana it is clear that if you disagree with Pence you will be silenced.

  7. girl cousin; Donnelly has been a “weak link” even before his election, had Republicans run Richard Lugar – Lugar would have won. Donnelly just proved himself to be more than a “weak link”, I now consider him the enemy – he voted FOR the pipeline along with the Republicans. If we don’t find a suitable replacement for him I will have to decide whether to ignore voting for him or voting for whatever Republican he runs against. Somewhere in this state there must be an intelligent, strong Democratic candidate.

  8. I would suggest that one spectrum over which humanity can be spread would have “ideological” at one end and something like “open” at the other. One end being those who’ve simplified life down to a few essentials, the other end those who recognize and deal with the fact that such simplification is just not reality.

    Reacting according to a few principles is inherently easier than thinking and more motivating I imagine. If you see the world as black and white then your choice of one or the other is bound to be, well, black or white.

    The thinkers of the world have to, have to, become as passionate about their complex world as the idealogs are about their simplistic world. Because one will emerge with more influence over the other. That’s democracy.

    The empirical failures of narrow thinking are legend. It’s plainly unaffordable.

  9. There is an interesting article in this month’s National Geographic about how people come to their conclusions about highly polarized issues. Also, Diane Rehm had a segment yesterday about the same subject with the author of the article and the editor of Science magazine as two of her guests. The article is enlightening and made me examine my own beliefs. The discussion on the radio show was even more so. The web address is http://thedianerehmshow.org. Find the segment titled, “Why We Doubt Scientific Findings” and click on the Listen tab.

  10. Correct, Jo. But the Dems didn’t bother to tell their constituents to vote in the GOP primary. It was simple math and, of course, I crossed over to vote for Lugar, my first GOP vote in life. But I was alone and the Dems were dumb and silent. So we end up with Donnelly. With proper leaders, we should be wiser but the Dems are just as handicapped as the nuts who are in power.

    I have said before: When they are in power they advance. When we are in power we TRY to maintain:

    Ten people charged under the espionage laws since 1917. Seven under Obama.
    Fewer pardons that any president in a century.
    Failure to order troops out of Gitmo as promised. ( Congress could not have override him)
    Failure to push single payer health care when he had both chambers.
    Failure to discipline General who came to his office in battle fatigues.
    Failure to rein in First Lady who brought south Side Chicago to the White House.
    Failure to surround himself and his office with those more dedicated to his success. (Valerie Jarrett)
    Failure to protect whistle blowers as promised. (More indictments than ever before.)
    Failure to fully comprehend his times and positions.
    Failure to reign in CIA foreign interventions. (What killed Kennedy)

    And now we scurry to get behind Hillary.

    Run Liz, run!

  11. Clearly Earl progress is slower when a party limits itself to truth and avoids mass marketing mind melds disguised as science and news. Lee Atwater was the first to sell to the Great Oligarchy Plot that winning is all that counts in politics. Their prime strategy ever since. Leaving democrats saddled with running the country single handedly. I think that Lee was right in the short term but wrong in the long.

    What do you think?

  12. Correct, Earl. The Dems didn’t urge their constituents to vote in the GOP primary – why would they when we needed to push for the strongest members of the Democratic party in THE primary. If you consider using power for obstructionism, gerrymandering and denying human and civil rights as advancement, maybe you should stick to the GOP side of the aisle. Yes; there are objectives that haven’t been met, not every campaign promise has been kept but consider what has been done – against never before seen odds for a president – and I consider myself to be on the winning side by continuing to support President Obama…and our First Lady. No president has ever been allowed or supported in attempts to provide solutions to fulfill all campaign promises and please all constituents. Maybe you, and many others, let your hopes get too high because this country elected a biracial president twice – which is (pardon the pun) unpresidented. If you are seeking perfectionism and believe we could/should be living in Utopia; I suggest you stick to reading “The Prophet”.

  13. No. Pete. I would never consider such tactics as an Atwater. Voting is not only a right but a duty and that duty implies responsibility. Voters should be informed and know, not only when to vote, but how to best vote for their own interest. We must live within the realities of our existence: we have been outmaneuvered by smarter pols. Lugar would have been a much better choice and proven better to work with than Donnelly. It is known that the winner of the GOP primary is the choice of Indiana. (Glitz?) It would simply have been an advantage to Dems to have voted in that GOP primary.

  14. Smarter by convincing young women to align with old men and women in control of their personal health issues.

    Smarter by convincing young white men to vote against Unions.

    Smarter by being more involved in government.

    Smarter by employing, enriching and exploiting blacks like Ben Carson.

    Smarter by appointing red meat idealogs to the courts while we search for ‘moderates’.

    Smarter by looking years down the road while we look days.

    Smarter by deciding who speaks for minorities. (Rev Al instead of Michael Steele)


  15. Smarter by playing the card and ensuring it’s always their ace against your trey.

  16. And Pete, the Dems are not left to run the country. ALEC has seated 31 Governors and 68 of 98 state legislatures. The highest in history. We run nothing. We cannot insure women’s health. Nor even men’s. We cannot stop endless wars and drone strikes on brown, yellow or black babies. We cannot slow the constant flow of from the poor to the rich. Forbes 400 listed the same people it did twenty years ago. We lost Glass/ Steagall under Clinton and tax increase on the uber riche under Obama.

    Explain to me why RBG refuses to retire while Obama is sitting? Knowing that nothing concerns the people more than the courts!

  17. Perhaps it’s old fashioned to believe that government doing what’s right for we, the people will prevail in a democracy and that in today’s world elections will go preferentially to those who focus on winning them through manipulation rather than performance.

    If so, I would suggest, democracy has a limited future.

    I personally can’t see a more functional replacement though. I would work towards fixing the things that are causing the dysfunction. Primarily campaign financing reform. Limit candidates to publically funded debate as the only mechanism for courting votes.

    And of course working harder on education, the real force in keeping democracy viable.

  18. I hate to harp, but one problem with the Pew report is that they perpetuate the idea that the field is centered on the 20-yard line. People identified as “consistently Liberal” are just that – Liberal, while those identified as “consistently Conservative” should more properly be identified as Reactionary, the term still used for far right in most political philosophy texts (Radical for extreme left). When was the last time you met a Trotskyite or a Moaist, like those that existed on campuses in the ’60s. However, those wishing to return to the “glorious” past and repeal the New Deal are alive and well — and politically active.
    The “Blue Dog” and “New Democrats” wanted to move the party to the Center-Right, believing that that was the only way to win — or possibly swallowing the Kool-aid of trickle-down. They are now called “liberals”. New Deal Democrats and their heirs are called far-left.

  19. I have never understood how depriving Americans of civil and human rights, running their lives – including medical decisions and treatment, interfering in sex lives and marriage, depriving them of quality education, changing district lines to “steal” votes and to constantly seek another country to declare war on is being conservative?

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