This is the first two of 13 charts that help to define the new American “Center”

click for all 13 graphics

Source: Esquire



Category: Data Analysis, Digital Media, Politics

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

11 Responses to “The New American Center”

  1. Chris Lee says:

    I did the questionnaire at the end. It told me I am a dirty f’un hippie then it punched me.
    A more interesting political tool can be found here.
    And I don’t believe they frame undocumented workers as illegal.

  2. rd says:

    No wonder the center is getting run over by the Right and Left. It looks very confused. Obviously, it thinks the world is a complex place, which we know is not true.

    BTW – the grossly inappropriate use of circle sizes in No. 11 makes pretty much every other graphic and data presentation suspect. They have an itty-bitty little circle for 22% compared to the much bigger circle for the 78%. The circles should have been sized on proportional area, not on diameter, but that would take math skills to calculate.

    • ami_in_deutschland says:

      I am appalled by almost all the infographics I see nowadays, which is utterly surprising given the large amount of good advice available about what works and what doesn’t (e.g. Edward Tufte), but I suspect the magazines just assign the work to whomever is the fastest Illustrator whiz.

      These charts on the Esquire site are especially bad. Here we see an unnecessarily wide variety of chart types — pie charts, bar charts, line charts, lists of percentages — displaying pretty much the exact same type of statistical information (parts of a hundred), all apparently chosen willy-nilly without a thought given to each one’s appropriateness. And that cross for “Role of Religion” (divided up by area, maybe?) is certainly the worst example of chart “sin” I’ve seen in a while. Ugh!

      • Its Esquire, not exactly known for their data analysis.

        The interesting aspect of this to me (and perhaps to you as a European) is how little coverage / mindshare the Middle gets, versus the extreme Right (and to a lesser degree, the extreme Left).

    • rd says:

      Barry, the key thing I got from this piece was that the Center is struggling with many competing concepts and is simply unable to distill that down to soundbites.

      Since the only political communication or news story these days is in six words or less, unless a pretty woman is accused fo murder, then the Center is completely cut out of news coverage except for NPR, blogs like this one, and the bowels of some dinosaur newspapers.

  3. Derektheunder says:

    So I took the test at the end too, and it says that I am way on the right side of the spectrum. I quote: “You are not a member of the new center. You are among the 14% who resents government intrusion into private business and our daily lives.”

    I shit you not.

  4. Keith R says:

    Thank you for posting this topic. Most people don’t realize how many people are independent, and it is not a new phenomena.

    It does seem important to the media that political discussions get cast as blue versus red, as if we were all simplistic gang members. I suspect that this is OK with the two parties too because dumbing down the discussion allows each party to portray the other as evil. This increases the level of outrage, which increases the level of political contributions for both parties.

    The unfortunate loss here are the thoughtful discussions on policy. For example, Obamacare is a complex thing. The legislation includes new concepts such as expanded Medicare, new insurance exchanges, changes to pre-existing condition clauses, mandatory insurance, tax benefits, etc. It is quite possible for people to like some elements but not others. The discussion doesn’t get that far due to all of the rancor.

    Still, the Republic survives. Long may it roll!

    • rd says:

      One of the reasons for the extreme polarization is because a large percentage of the population is not polarized. As a result, the agenda for each party is driven by the outer 20% on that end of the political spectrum. The 60% in the middle are then left gaping at the two competing agendas trying to figure where such unreasonable and unrealistic things could have sprung from.

      Historically party planks had a bunch of kooky things in them to appease voting segments but nobody really thought they would be discussed seriously afte the convention. Now those kooky things have become the primary policy drivers. Citizens United means that there is often serious independent money behind some of the nuttiest things.

  5. formerlawyer says:

    I call BS on this poll – the questions are slanted. The questions are leading:

    1. They suggest there is a problem.
    2. They propose one “solution” to the problem.
    3. It is human nature, once a “problem” has been identified and a solution suggested that unless they strongly disagree with the solution or the existence of a problem, they will agree with “action” on the problem.
    4. This is exacerbated by the low civic knowledge of Americans.

    More neutral questions could include:

    2. (b) Are you satisfied with the current voter identification laws in your state?
    (c) Are you satisfied with the current situation in affirmative action law and policies?

    Even more egregiously question 2(c) explicitly refers to illegal aliens as having “broken the rules”.

    All of the questions suffer the same kind of flaws. That together with the “analysis” renders this “study” from Esquire a joke in my view.

    • Fair criticism.

      Note that here is the survey methodology:

      The Benenson Strategy Group and Public Opinion Strategies conducted a nationwide survey from August 5 through 11, 2013, with 2,410 registered voters. They applied a k-means clustering technique to group respondents into “segments” based on attitudinal and demographic commonalities and like-mindedness. They conducted eight iterations of the clustering to optimize the differentiating variables that feed into the segmentation methodology. The segments were formed based on commonalities across their demographics; psychographics; political, social, and economic values; and lifestyles. The pollsters selected the segmentation solution that yielded the most unique and differentiated clusters.

      Here is the EDITOR’S NOTE:

      Based on respondents’ answers to our survey, the statisticians and analysts identified eight distinct ideological segments within the U. S. population, each with its own defining values, beliefs, and lifestyles. Among those eight segments, there are four that occupy what the survey has determined is the center of the ideological spectrum. Unless otherwise indicated, each of the answers to the survey questions reflects the general consensus position of the center. For clarity, some questions have been adjusted and some answers aggregated from the original survey.

      If you have a better survey detailing the perspectives of the middle, feel free to share it