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Pew Values Poll: Independents' Upper Hand

The Pew Research Center's invaluable political values survey is just out, emphasizing the continued growth in political independents, a group that appears increasingly conflicted about the role of government.

The new poll's sweeping questionnaire allows an updated look at the impact the growth in independent voters and corresponding decline among partisans could have on the nation's ideological leanings as the Obama presidency unfolds. This is particularly true on views of government, as the report notes: "The political values of independents are mixed and run counter to orthodox liberal and conservative thinking about government."

The Center's analysis used 13 indices to gauge public opinion on a range of issue areas. As partisan opinions have grown apart on many topics, independents, who have grown as a share of the population, have not moved consistently in one ideological direction.

(In 2007, the Post, along with our partners at the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University School of Public Health, conducted an in-depth survey of independent voters, finding a politically diverse group, whose impact would prove critical in the 2008 election.)

On questions of the social safety net and equal opportunities and rights, independents have shifted toward traditional Republican positions, while on broader role of government questions, independents hew more closely to the Democratic point of view. Independents also tend to lean closer to Democrats on issues including regulation of the free market, social values, religiosity and national security, but are more apt to agree with Republicans on government responsiveness.

While independents on the whole remain a relatively centrist bunch, partisans in the poll have grown markedly further apart. The average difference between Republican and Democratic responses to a range of values questions stands at 16 percentage points, the highest level in surveys dating back to 1987.

That mirrors a trend evident in exit polling dating back to the mid-1970s: A steady climb in ideological alignment among partisans. Nearly four in 10 Democrats voting in the 2008 election considered themselves liberal, tying the previous high of 39 percent in 2004, while among Republicans, 64 percent who voted in 2008 considered themselves conservative, the highest level in any modern exit poll.

The Pew Center's survey provides a broad, baseline measure on partisan and ideological views at the outset of the "Obama era." Whether the trendlines continue to move Obama's way will determine whether that era ends in 2012 or beyond.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  May 21, 2009; 10:01 AM ET
Categories:  Polls , The Independents  
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Comments

The elections in 2010 are going to be brutal for a group of politicians known as Incumbents. Anyone of the morons that rubber stamped the bail-out bill without reading it should simply resign at this point. They have breached their fiduciary duty to the People. They had an obligation to operate as an independent arm of our government. Maybe they need to go back to school and read about checks and balances.

All Spendocrats need to be removed from office. Fiscal responsibility and making decisions for the People instead of Unions and special interests is going to be high on the list.

Here is a short list:

1. Ban all government unions. Set pay and retirement packages and if the employees want to unionize fine. If they do not like the pay then follow Regan's handling of the air-traffic controllers. Show them the door.

2. Immigration:

-Pass a law to do away with the Anchor Baby issue. This would be an immigration law that states for a child born in US territory to be a US citizen the mother at the time of birth has to be a US citizen. Yes this would go to the Supreme Court but it should be upheld as a proper interpretation of the 14th Amendment. Ron Paul has introduced this legislation on several occasions only to be shot down by both Democrats and Republicans. Mr. Paul please introduce that legislation again. If anyone agrees contact Ron Paul's office and ask him to re-introduce it.

-Finish the border fence. Obama has not authorized any more of the border fence to be finished. All that will be completed is what was authorized under Bush. Until we finish the border fence any discussion of amnesty is off the table. Our national security is at risk.

-Pass and enforce E-Verify.

-Hire enough border patrols to man the borders.

-Establish an adequate immigration department to process the expected flow of work visas.

-Find and register all illegal aliens. Deport those that are not suitable or lack the ability to pay for themselves.

The economic drain created by unions and illegal aliens has to stop. We can no longer afford these entitlement programs. Taking care of the illegal alien issue will drastically lower the health care cost in this Country.

Come 2010 use your vote to bring real change to Washington. Vote no on Incumbents that voted for the bail-out and that have bankrupted this Country. Look up those that voted to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act. Vote them out of office.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | May 21, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Obama is courageous and insightful. Let Cheney the devil re-incarnate go to hell where he belongs. Way to go Obama !

Posted by: thisworld | May 21, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

And the Republican party shrinks into the reactionary, racist, pro-torture party minority that it desrves. How many of the new 'Independents' voted for Bush?

Posted by: thebobbob | May 21, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

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