The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

When Mitt Romney infamously mused on the 47 percent of Americans who leech off the government, he may have been speaking for about 80 percent of his party.

On Thursday, the Pew Research Center released a wide-ranging survey on political attitudes in an increasingly polarized United States. The survey, which sampled a massive 10,013 adults nationwide between January 23 and March 16, sorted Americans into eight political typologies: steadfast conservatives, business conservatives, solid liberals, young outsiders, hard-pressed skeptics, the next-generation left, the faith-and- family left, and bystanders (you can see where you fit into Pew’s map of the electorate here).

Pew surveyed dozens of questions, but one stands out in particular: When asked if they agree more with the statement that “poor people have hard lives because government benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently” or “poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything,” conservatives overwhelmingly side with the latter.

Chart via Pew Research Center

Chart via Pew Research Center

The political implications of this divide are clear. There’s a reason that Republican politicians insist that unemployment benefits hurt the unemployed, or that food stamps must be cut to prevent the poor from becoming complacent, or coalesce behind budgets that actively attempt to eradicate the social safety net: It’s what the Republican base believes.

So much for compassionate conservatism.

Want more political news and analysis? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, left, and former President Donald Trump.

Photo by Kevin McCarthy (Public domain)

In the professional stratum of politics, few verities are treated with more reverence than the outcome of next year's midterm, when the Republican Party is deemed certain to recapture majorities in the House and Senate. With weary wisdom, any pol or pundit will cite the long string of elections that buttress this prediction.

Political history also tells us that many factors can influence an electoral result, including a national crisis or a change in economic conditions — in other words, things can change and even midterm elections are not entirely foretold. There have been a few exceptions to this rule, too.

Keep reading... Show less
x

Close