Why do some people vote against their economic self-interest? Why do "working class" and rural Americans vote for pro-business Republicans? What accounts for the existence of limousine liberals? There are, of course, many answers to these questions. The answers will help us understand how conservatives can gain political ground.
Core Values drive voters' politics. Voters are different from each other because they have different core values. Swing voters, in particular, vote on values, not on policy. This helps to begin to understand why voters sometimes vote against what would appear to be their self-interest.
Voters' decisions tend to be driven by five Core Values:
- Extending opportunity
- Working within a community
- Achieving independence
- Focusing on family
- Defending righteousness
Analysts have shown that they can reliably predict how a voter will vote by asking questions that pinpoint the voter's core value. Voters can be divided into "tribes" on the basis of the core value that tends to have the biggest impact on their voting decisions.
Spotlight Analysis, a consulting agency, has taken information such as neighborhood details, family sizes, and purchasing behavior, and has grouped nearly every American of voting age — 175 million of us — into 10 "values" tribes [two groups for each of the five core values]. Fellow tribe members may not share the same race or religion, or fall into the same income bracket, but they have common feelings about the issues that transcend politics.
The ten groups are illustrated below:
As you read the description of the groups below, think about where you fit in.
These firebrand voters tend to have little respect for entrepreneurs. They are keenly interested in government-mediated equalization of opportunity. They are less likely than members of other tribes to be college educated, married or to have children living at home.
The largest of the ten tribes, this crowd consists of uncommitted, independent-minded, idealistic Democrats who have little interest in faith-based living.
Members of this community-oriented tribe are motivated by their desire for material success and career satisfaction.
These people focus on working within a community and insist on fitness in the physical, moral and financial sense.
This group believes in "playing by the rules" and "keeping promises." They adhere to faith-based living. They're entrepreneurial and active in community organizations but are ambivalent about government. Barn Raisers are slightly less likely to have a college education than other swing groups.
Members of this group tend to focus on family satisfaction and faith, but they resent attempts to politicize these values and are less committed than Barn Raisers. Hearth Keepers resist marketing intrusions into their private lives.
Sometimes described as "techno-libertarians", Right Clicks are comfortable with new technology and comprise a Republican-leaning tribe. They flocked Ross Perot in 1992. Like their cousins in the tribe of Civic Sentries, Right Clicks are united by their commitment to family.
Less rambunctious than the Right Clicks, Civic Sentries tend to worry about safety and economic security. They're described as "righteous, free-market social conservative types who want to protect what they consider U.S. values such as self-reliance."
Members of this group believe that today's societal trends "menace a lifestyle committed to patriotism, faith, family, community and morality."
This is a conservative group committed to individual initiative. They are "alloyed by a strong belief in a divine hand in human affairs."
In races decided by one or two percentage points, the party that pinpoints a few thousand individual voters in the right places could come out on top. By understanding how the Core Values motivate voters in each of the ten tribes differently, conservatives can take back the GOP and take back the nation. If this is, or ever was, a center-right nation, it is because conservatives have a firm grasp on all five core values. In this regard, conservatives have an advantage over liberals.
To which group do you belong?