Republican VS Democrats beliefs chart
Though the actual survey respondents could also answer "don't know, " it's true that this format doesn't allow for much moderation or nuance. But that's what happens in American politics — you have to choose between two alternatives, not some fantasy third one. Here, you have to pick the statement you agree with most — or, which one you're least repelled by.
Liberals are very divided on how big a problem racial discrimination is
After asking 23 of these ideological questions, Pew examined how various views clustered among respondents so they could sort them into distinct groups. Now, there are other potential ways to sort their results — this is Pew's particular interpretation of the data, and y
1) Some liberals are much less concerned about racial discrimination
Pew argues that we should think of the Democratic coalition as having a core of solid liberals — plus two other somewhat more moderate clusters that agree with liberals on most issues, but have very different views on a few. The first of these clusters is "The Next Generation Left." Though the group skews younger than any other group in the survey, don't interpret it as representing the views of young liberals — only 33% of the group is under 30 years old. Instead, it's a group of mostly-Obama supporting people who are liberal on most economic, social, and foreign policy issues — but seem to have some very different views on race, the safety net, and how fair America is.
Overall, the Next Generation Left are far more likely than solid liberals to agree that most people can get ahead if they're willing to work hard, and far less likely to believe that racial discrimination is the main reason blacks can't get ahead. Most of them agree, instead, with the statement that blacks who can't get ahead are responsible for their own condition. Ta-Nehisi Coates touched on this divide recently, that "Obama-era progressives view white supremacy as something awful that happened in the past, " but "I view white supremacy as one of the central organizing forces in American life."
2) Some liberals are more religiously conservative and less accepting of homosexuality
Then there's "The Faith and Family Left" — which is the most racially diverse of the left-leaning groups, at 59 percent nonwhite. This group overwhelmingly thinks that it's necessary to believe in God to be moral, and is split down the middle on whether homosexuality should be accepted or discouraged. And like the Next Generation Left, they overwhelmingly believe that you can get ahead in America if you work hard.
These divides on particular issues don't mean that the Democratic Party is in trouble — it remains quite united on the vast majority of issues. And in part, it is so because leading Democratic politicians have been adept at appealing to these less liberal groups. As Coates has written, even when Obama speaks to black audiences he emphasizes personal responsibility and optimism, in language not so different from Paul Ryan's. And most leading Democratic politicians would never be caught dead trashing religion — except, perhaps, when they think they're in private.