As a registrant of OKCupid I can access the profiles of fellow registrants and back in 2006-07 I scrutinised the profiles of 150 participants of my test over a busy period for the test of several weeks. I collected what demographic data I could on those participants and noted which category result they got in the Political Objectives Test. Herein I present aggregates of that information as percentages. I must also note the limitations of the data.
To start with I have a small sample size. Still it is (I am advised) 'statistically significant' at over one hundred so I will go with that.
The next drawback is the fact that all participants have actively chosen to take a political test - they came to me rather than me to them. As a result the selection (one can assume) is more interested in politics than the population as a whole. I will speculate then that the Apathetic result may well be under-represented in my results.
Another issue is the media utilised. Who uses the Internet? Who more specifically spends time on amusements and networking sites? I suspect that it is younger persons in developed nations (which my demographic data supports). This is fitting in the sense that the array of political ideologies I describe arose in the developed world (even if they aspire to be universal concepts embraced by all).
Finally the data collected is now a few years old and since then economic conditions have worsened. If I were to collect the data now would I find a move away from liberty and towards the comfort of equality or stability as principles?
Whole Group Statistics
What follows is the information I collected on the demographics of the surveyed group of 150 as a whole and is presented as percentages. Some of that information will then be presented also for particular ideological categories.
Far more participants were male than female. However I am aware that in any natural sampling of the population there are approximately as many men as there are women. And because I know this and because the mathematics is basic I have decided to adjust all my gender figures to reflect that fact. This is the only demographic data I have adjusted for known trends and gives the result of 49.78% male to 50.22% female.
At the risk of simplifying the very complicated matter of human sexuality I have put participants into two groupings - heterosexual and non-heterosexual or queer. This reflects the results I got - the vast majority admit to heterosexuality. With that in mind - and remembering that this is a sensitive matter and some may be inclined to pretend to be heterosexual - I present the following percentages: 85.34% heterosexual to 14.67% queer.
OKCupid is in part a dating site. Therefore the following figures should be hardly surprising: 81.34% were single and only 18.67% were in relationships. How relevant is this statistic to my subject matter? I must admit that I noted it simply because the information was there to be had. Still it may tell us something regarding particular ideologies. And since relationships relate to family issues this is ultimately a factor of some political relevance.
I have divided the participants into four age-groups. Those under 21 years of age account for 18% of participants. The group 21-35 are the largest at 55.34%. The group 36-50 are smaller at 22%. By far the smallest group is over 50 years of age at only 3.34%. This is hardly surprising given the extent to which younger generations have adopted the Internet.
Participant profiles include educational information. 34.67% of participants have attended university while 65.34% attended compulsory schooling only.
The nation-states to which participants belong is noted in profiles. This figure was particularly skewed as one may suspect given that the test is conducted via the Internet. 64.67% of participants are from the United States of America. 16.67% are from Commonwealth nations. Only 18.67% are from the rest of the world (Continental Europe and Latin America and Asia).
I have put participants into three religious groupings. The largest is the 'Secular' (atheists and agnostics and non-committal) at 50.67%. The next group is the 'Theists' (Abrahamic religions) at 35.34%. Finally the smallest group I simply call 'Other' (most of whom identify as 'pagan') and represent 14% of the total.
Popularity of Ideological Catagories
The following figures shows what percentage of total participants identify with each ideology as described in the Political Objectives Test. They are listed in terms of popularity:
Utopian Socialist: 3.34%
Confused Extremist: 0%
Looking at these results immediately suggests that my surveyed group is too small. There are ideologies I deem to be 'alternative' that are more popular than ones I regard as 'conventional'. So there are more Libertarians than there are garden-variety Socialists or Conservatives. And there are even more more 'extremist' Anarchists than the 'conventional' Communitarians.
Overall those who value liberty are more numerous than those that value (in particular) the combination of equality with stability. The predominance of Americans in my surveyed group likely accounts for this. There are few Communitarians and there are no Authoritarians or Totalitarians at all. I have very rarely seen someone on OKCupid get such a result but there were none at the time of my surveying.
Also I have never even seen anyone to get the Confused Extremist result on observing the site (as a one-time political activist I still suspect they exist but that is just my hunch). Still even if such persons exist the act of taking a written test may force a recognition in participants that some statements are contradictory and push them into more coherent ideological choices.
It is interesting to total the figures for the 'spokes' and 'rings' of the wheel concept as described under The Big Picture here.
Liberty Spoke: 32.01%
Liberty+Equality Spoke: 27.34%
Liberty+Stability Spoke: 15.35%
Equality Spoke: 8.68%
Stability Spoke: 6.68%
Equality+Stability Spoke: 2%
Conventional Ring: 68.1%
Alternative or Transitional Ring: 16.03%
Extremist Ring: 8.02%
The figures for the 'spokes' demonstrate that liberty is the most popular principle and is then followed by equality and finally stability. The figures for the 'rings' show something different - how fanatical respondents are. We can see that a definite majority - 68.1% - identify with conventional political perspectives that vie for attention within the confines of democratic political debate. We see that 16.03% are interested in forms of politics that provide an alternative to the conventional or which allow one to experiment with some more extreme notions. And finally we see that 8.02% have an extremist identity.
We also see in the 'hub' that very few participants regard the three principles with a similar degree of positivity (moderate) or negativity (apathetic). The vast majority of participants can and do show a preference for one or at the most two of the three principles.
Statistics - Ideology-by-Ideology
The more popular the ideology the more we can say about it in terms of demographics. There are only six moderates in my surveyed group while there are 33 classical liberals. I can present all sorts of info about liberals but barely any info on half-a-dozen moderates. What follows is the demographics of many of my categories In some cases I combine related categories. In many cases I allow readers to draw their own conclusions regarding the demographics of the different groups.
60% of classical liberals are female. 21% are queer. 27.3% are in relationships. In all these regards the liberals are less male-dominated, less heterosexual and less likely to be single than the whole surveyed group.
15.15% are under 21. 51.51% are aged 21-35. 24.24% are aged 36-50. 9.09% are over 50. It seems that the average liberal is somewhat older than other test-takers. 28% attended university - somewhat fewer than the norm.
79.2% of liberal test-takers are from the USA while 13.2% are from Commonwealth nations and 16.5% are from other nations. It seems that Americans are over-represented in the classical liberal camp.
45.45% are secular while 27.27% are theists and 27.27% are other. Among liberals it seems that both secular and theist positions are less popular than normal while other perspectives like modern paganism are more popular than is usual. This possibly makes sense in the sense that liberals are 'free thinkers'.
52% of progressives are female. 10% are queer. 15.15% are in relationships. In all these regards the progressives are more heterosexual and more likely to be single than the whole surveyed group. If this is surprising then I can only attribute it to the small overall sample-size.
24.24% are under 21. 60.6% are aged 21-35. 15.15% are aged 36-50. 0% are over 50. It seems that the average progressive is rather younger than other test-takers. 28% attended university - somewhat fewer than the norm.
60.06% of progressive test-takers are from the USA while 18.18% are from Commonwealth nations and 21.21% are from other nations. The progressives have a somewhat more global distribution than the norm.
100% of progressives are secular - a very significant figure for one of the two largest groups in the survey but hardly surprising regarding the professed 'humanism' of many progressives and the suspicion they tend to show towards the impact of religion on political life.
46.67% of establishmentarians are female. 13.34% are queer. 20% are in relationships. In all these regard establishmentarians are more male-dominated, somewhat more heterosexual and somewhat less likely to be single than the whole surveyed group.
15% are under 21. 35% are aged 21-35. 45% are aged 36-50. 5% are over 50. It seems that the average establishmentarian is older than other test-takers. 13% attended university - significantly fewer than the norm.
80% of establishmentarian test-takers are from the USA while 6.67% are from Commonwealth nations and 13.34% are from other nations. It seems that Americans are very much over-represented in the establishmentarian camp.
25% are secular while 75% are theists and 0% are other. The majority of establishmentarians are religious and if they reject established churches it is to be rationalist atheists or agnostics rather than to explore more esoteric religions.
Libertarian & Anarchist
Because of small numbers and very similar characteristics these two groups are considered as one. Statistics have been combined but in all cases those combinations reflect the same tendency in both groups (for instance both are numerically male-dominated).
43.04% are female. 18.9% are queer. Only 4.5% are in relationships. In all these regards they are more male-dominated, less heterosexual and much more likely to be single than the whole surveyed group.
18.89% are under 21. 67.78% are aged 21-35. 6.67% are aged 36-50. 0% are over 50. It seems that the average person of this group is very much a young adult rather than a teenaged or mature-aged. 25.56% attended university - fewer than the norm.
65% of test-takers are from the USA while 15% are from Commonwealth nations and 20% are from other nations. This is very close to the norm for the surveyed group (which itself has an abundance of Americans).
70% are secular while 20% are theists and 10% are other. This is a predominantly secular grouping.
Moderate & Apathetic
These two groups are in a sense the two sides of the same coin. They are considered together but some differences in demographics will be noted.
38.9% are female. A third of moderates are in relationships while none of the apathetic are.
16.67% are under 21. 66.67% are aged 21-35. 16.67% are aged 36-50. 0% are over 50. The apathetic are exclusively of the 21-35 age-group in my survey. 25% attended university.
66.67% of test-takers are from the USA while 16.67% are from Commonwealth nations and 16.67% are from other nations.
66.67% are secular while 33.34% are theists and 0% are other. The apathetic are more likely to be secular than the moderates.
Socialist - Utopian Socialist - Communist
There are significant differences among those dedicated to equality. Nonetheless it is useful in this analysis to look at them together particularly since they are small in number.
44.45% are female (the proportion of women reduces the more one moves from conventional to extremist). 16% are queer (once more this reduces among extremists). 13% are in relationships.
16.67% are under 21. 55.56% are aged 21-35. 17.75% are aged 36-50. 0% are over 50. 26.67% attended university.
33.34% of test-takers are from the USA while 33.34% are from Commonwealth nations and 33.34% are from other nations. They have a more global distribution than the norm. Interestingly both garden-variety socialists and communists come from Commonwealth or other nations while one is more likely to find utopian socialists in the US.
60% are secular while 6.67% are theists and 13.34% are other. Curiously it is once more the utopian socialists who may be religious while the garden-variety socialists and communists are entirely secular.
Conservative - Ultra-Conservative - Fascist
There are significant differences among those dedicated to stability. Nonetheless it is useful in this analysis to look at them together particularly since they are small in number.
50% are female (the proportion of women reduces the more one moves from conventional to extremist). 10% are queer (however these are all garden-variety conservatives). 30% are in relationships - significantly more than is the norm (however once more all these are garden-variety conservatives).
A surprising 30% are under 21 but this is skewed by the extremists and if one looks only at garden-variety conservatives then they have somewhat fewer adolescents than is the norm. 30% are aged 21-35. 20% are aged 36-50. 20% are over 50. Overall this group has a better age-distribution than is the norm. 40% attended university - more than the norm.
70% of test-takers are from the USA while 20% are from Commonwealth nations and 10% are from other nations. They have a less global distribution than the norm. All the extremists came from the USA.
50% are secular while 50% are theists and 0% are other. The more extremist the more secular they are likely to be.
One more thing I noticed while looking at profiles - more so than for other test-takers those dedicated to stability were likely to have locked profiles (which I would need to be logged in to access) - they value privacy more than others.
Radical & Revolutionary
Due to small numbers and similarity of philosophy these groups are presented together.
40% are female. A significant 36.67% are queer. A surprising 26.67% are in relationships.
10% are under 21. 63.34% are aged 21-35. 26.67% are aged 36-50. 0% are over 50. An impressive 73.34% attended university.
50% of test-takers are from the USA while 25% are from Commonwealth nations and 25% are from other nations. They have a more global distribution than the norm.
90% are secular while 0% are theists and 10% are other (it is among the Radicals that there are some 'Other').
With such small numbers it is difficult to say anything for sure regarding this group.
Reactionary & Survivalist
Due to small numbers and similarity of philosophy these groups are presented together.
33.34% are female. 0% are queer. 33.34% are in relationships.
33.34% are under 21. 33.34% are aged 21-35. 33.34% are aged 36-50. 0% are over 50. 0% attended university.
A startling 100% of test-takers are from the USA.
33.34% are secular while 66.67% are theists and 0% are other.
With such small numbers it is difficult to say anything for sure regarding this group.
Note that none of those surveyed got Authoritarian or Totalitarian results. As such only the Communitarians here represent a dedication to both equality and stability. The group is so small that all statistics must be looked at skeptically.
33.34% are female. 0% are queer. 0% are in relationships.
100% are aged 21-35. 33.34% attended university.
0% of test-takers are from the USA while 33.34% are from Commonwealth nations and 66.67% are from other nations. They are the only group that reverses the US dominance of numbers in the survey.
100% of Communitarians are theists.
With such small numbers it is difficult to say anything for sure regarding this group. However what we do see seems to agree with the 'Centre Party' brand of inter-war Europe.
In this discussion I will consider the character and profile of differing kinds of politics and make some observations regarding the relative successes and futures of these movements. I will also discuss the implications of the figures for the Political Objectives Test model. I will depart from my usual aversion for the terminology of ‘left and right’ for the purposes of this discussion.
The classical liberals are particularly interesting because they are one of the largest groups and yet more than other 'conventional' positions they tend to lack in specific political representation. There are few major classical liberal parties in the world. And yet this group represents a significant portion of modern society.
Does this matter? Is there opportunity here for the formation of new liberal parties combining a qualified acceptance of the state with a blend of market economics and permissive culture? Some libertarians may wish to present themselves as such but if they do so they will need to recognize that they must moderate the fervor with which they criticize the state which the average citizen - even one of classical liberal persuasion - still values.
However there is another possibility. For decades now the trend in policy changes has been towards both a permissive culture and market economics tempered by the kind of limitations one expects in a representative democracy. The process of centre-left and centre-right parties "taking turns" in forming government has over-time provided a policy mix that approximates something that will satisfy the average liberal. Liberal voters can then be well-served simply by ‘swinging’ between opposing parties.
Among those dedicated to equality – from socialists to communists - are some interesting findings. The most interesting is that among them there is a more pronounced tendency towards extremism than among those dedicated to stability. In other words the garden-variety socialists (conventional form) are outnumbered by utopian socialists and communists. This may be a product of the nature of the labour movement in which both conventional and extremist groups cross paths as they seek to promote themselves.
Another interesting thing is that the utopian socialists seem at odds with the garden-variety socialists and communists they sit between - for instance many of them are religious in what is an otherwise very secular movement. It may even be this factor that makes utopian socialists both more idealistic than garden-variety socialists and yet equivocal compared with communists.
It seems that garden-variety socialists are now just a tendency within progressivism - it is in this form that they will continue to have an impact on politics. They may take the form (for instance) of factions representing trade unions within major centre-left parties.
It is progressives who are now the centre-left and have all but replaced garden-variety socialists in this role. Parties of a progressive character would be wise to note the desires of classical liberal swinging voters while still placating old-school socialists (and possibly also radicals). However they can afford to do this less so than establishmentarians need to heed the pressure of old-school conservatives. Nonetheless they will have to decide from issue-to-issue how best to balance equality with liberty.
Among those dedicated to stability – from conservatives to fascists - we see some interesting things. The most interesting is that among them there is a less pronounced tendency towards extremism than among those dedicated to equality. In other words the garden-variety conservatives (conventional form) outnumber ultra-conservatives and fascists combined.
This seems to fit the self-image of the conservative as persons of tasteful and proper character that distance themselves from anything of a controversial nature. The tendency of the extremists to be young and secular suggests that within this group fascism is a way of expressing youthful dissent rather than any entrenched devotion.
It looks like garden-variety conservatives are now just a tendency within establishmentarianism - it is in this form that they will continue to have an impact on politics. They may take the form (for instance) of the rural branches of major centre-right parties.
It is establishmentarians who are now the centre-right and have all but replaced garden-variety conservatives in this role. Parties of an establishmentarian character would be wise to placate old-school conservatives (and possibly also reactionaries). However if they wish to expand support overall then they need to court classical liberals. In all this they will have to decide from issue-to-issue how best to balance stability with liberty.
It is worth noting in the survey that progressives are more popular than their rival establishmentarians. Do the survey results agree with the current political climate? It does seem that the pendulum has recently been swinging back from right to left. A quick look at who is in power in ten prominent nations seems to confirm this.
Those ten nation-states are the members of the G7 along with India (largest democracy in world) and Brazil (a Latin American power) and Australia (my home nation). Consider the following:
USA - Democratic Party - Centre-Left
Canada - Conservative - Centre-Right
Japan - Democratic Party - Centre-Left
UK - Labour Party - Centre-Left
Germany – Christian Democratic Union - Centre-Right
France – Union For A Popular Movement - Centre-Right
Italy – Forward Italy - Centre-Right
India - Congress Party - Centre-Left
Brazil - Workers Party - Centre-Left
Australia - Labor Party - Centre-Left
Note: This list was accurate as of 2009-10.
The governments of six nations are centre-left while the governments of four are centre-right. The popularity of the left over the right in my survey is more pronounced than this – hardly surprising given it is a tiny group of global citizens. However it does seems to agree with global trends. However there are always those that defy the mood of the times or reject its assumptions altogether.
The libertarian and anarchist group is bigger than other non-conventional forms of politics and I wonder why. It may even be that the success of this test has bolstered the number of 'advocates for self-government' surfing the Net. Or it may be simply because of the popularity overall of liberty in the polity. However it is classical liberals who are the group that far-and-away most benefit from the dominance of liberty as a political concept.
The apathetic and the moderates are few in number - they are different from the conventional 'ring' total. It is a relatively rare person who places similar value on all three principles. However moderate policy-preferences will sometimes be approximated by populist governments intent to keeping power. Moderate persons will if anything gravitate towards liberalism or fall into apathy (which must be bigger than this survey of politically interested persons shows).
There are those who find it difficult to become part of dominant parties of the left and right. The communitarian perspective is something one would only adhere to if one sincerely agreed with its ideology – they are a very small movement indeed. In order to promote themselves communitarians may wish to present as or engage with moderates. Otherwise they may simply fade with time.
It is because of the tiny numbers of communitarians that I am tempted to abandon my model altogether and admit that the left-right concept is correct in most cases. Fewer than 5% of test-takers in this conventional ring are communitarian. One could then remove them from that ring and turn it into a line. From left-to-right one would then have the following:
The mark of a centrist then would be a dedication to liberty rather than in seeking to compromise between equality and stability. However the conventional ring excludes almost a third of all participants.
An anarchist is a very different thing from a liberal and cannot be conveniently subsumed into the left-right model. And then there is everyone from revolutionary to survivalist and back to the lamented communitarian – even if they are small in number I think they still deserve to be recognized and understood and sometimes the only way to do that is give names to things.
Furthermore there are still authoritarian and even totalitarian regimes in the world today. The secular ones of the Twentieth Century may be on the wane but those of a religious form very much exist even if nobody of that persuasion chooses to take tests on OKCupid. A multi-dimensional model is still a useful thing to develop. I hope that mine - focusing on principles rather than issues - can be regarded as a useful addition to the many models presented on-line that help us understand our own politics and those of others we interact with.
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