General Question

dalepetrie's avatar

So, how progressive are you?

Asked by dalepetrie (17920 points ) March 12th, 2009

OK, I know Fluther isn’t usually thought of as a place for surveys, but I’m kind of curious. I have to say that generally the users seem to be overall quite liberal ideologically speaking, but there are a share of conservatives and moderates thrown in. Then I ran into this quiz that was just published that is tracking American attitudes. In the controlled study they had people self identify along a number of data points (you’ll see what I mean if you take the quiz), and basically they asked 40 questions, let you rank from 0 to 10, so essentialy you can score anywhere from 0 (as hardcore conservative as it gets) to 400 (as hardcore liberal/progressive as it gets). What was interesting to me was that they ranked people ideologically from conservative Republican to Liberal Democrat. Conservative Republicans, the most conservative self identifying marker, scored an average of 160.6, which when you get right down to it is only 20% from center. McCain voters scored an average of 169. Then on the other side, Liberal Democrats scored 247.1, Obama voters scoring an average of 244.

Now, I took the quiz, and I knew I was more liberal than your typical liberal Democrat, but I scored 344, which was kind of alarming to me. Yet, in looking at the blog where I found this (admittedly a liberal blog), most people scored that high or higher.

So where do you score? Just curious.

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/03/progressive_quiz.html

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29 Answers

dynamicduo's avatar

That quiz was interesting at the start, yet I disagreed with it before I passed the 8th question, and totally dismissed it at question 20. Here’s why.

The closest political label to me is libertarian. This survey does not consider this as a valid option, and in fact structures the questions as dynamic opposites to each other (for example, I believe in homosexual rights, but I also believe in small government, and I voted polar opposites here, thus effectively canceling both out).

Sure enough, upon completing the quiz, my score is an perfect and even 200/400, which puts me directly in the middle. So what am I, nothing? A middleman? No, I’m a libertarian. It just happens to be that this quiz only believes there are two valid politicial ideologies, liberal or conservative. I am certainly not a progressive conservative as this quiz is trying to tell me.

This quiz is fundamentally flawed in its approach and does not consider all points of view. Furthermore, it does nothing to further the discussion or debate about the questions asked (some political identifying quizzes I’ve taken show your answers at the end, and provide links for each answer that allow you to further investigate the data and thus your stance on the issue). The only thing I gained from participating in this survey was to reinforce my knowledge that many surveys and polls are designed by idiots who can’t query their way out of a box (for instance, the 1–10 scale has long since been shown to be flawed in people’s interpretation of the numbers – a “strong agree” to “strongly disagree” with 5 values would have been much more appropriate here).

cookieman's avatar

307/400

I’m apparently a pinko.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@cprevite – I’m less of a pinko than you: 299/400.

casheroo's avatar

291/400. I thought my number would be higher.

Alyanna's avatar

199/400 – Like dynamicduo, I’m labeled conservative by the quiz, but my answers were split pretty evenly between 0s, 5s, and 10s. It’s fine for determining someone’s stance between the 2 parties, but not much else.

girlofscience's avatar

I scored 346/400. This makes me extremely progressive.

syz's avatar

I am at 272 ( the last interactive quiz that I took at the suggestion of a Flutherite suggested that I suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome, so I guess finding out that I’m not quite as progressive as I thought is not so bad ).

rawpixels's avatar

I scored a 193/400 and says I’m a conservative. Here are my views on major issues:

-I’m pro-choice
-I’m for legalizing marijuana
-I’m for limited government/low taxes
-Totally against illegal immigration, but support legal immigration
-Against affirmative action/racial-gender quotas
-Against my country trying to impose democracy in other countries
-I’m for capitalism with smart regulations
-I have no problem with welfare, as long as something is expected in return

I’m not sure my views make me a conservative. I think I’m a raging moderate

aidje's avatar

I’m with @dynamicduo. I gave up around question 15 and didn’t bother finishing the quiz.

wundayatta's avatar

337. I don’t think it would be hard to predict the score of various flutherites—certainly the ones know well. When I was younger, I probably would have been even more progressive, if you can believe that.

Of course, as @aidje and @dynamicduo have pointed out, these questions are not very distinctive. They do not allow for more complex opinions or for nuanced opinions. It’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out here. Didn’t we do this back during the election, too?

essieness's avatar

348/400 – holy… moley… Bet you guys aren’t surprised.

galileogirl's avatar

288/400 very progressive according to the quiz, but in my city that would be considered a centrist.

wundayatta's avatar

@galileogirl As well as on fluther, perhaps?

galileogirl's avatar

What I have seen in the real world is the more extreme the viewpoint the more difficult it is to maintain it.

If an 18 yo earning min wage votes 10 to raise taxes, it might not be as persuasive as a 55 yo earning $70k who votes a 9.

girlofscience's avatar

@galileogirl: I had to read your first sentence 4 times before I got it, haha. It would have been much easier if there were commas around “the more extreme the viewpoint”!

jonsblond's avatar

261/400 very progressive

drClaw's avatar

291 very progressive

Bluefreedom's avatar

235/400 – I’m progressive (for now)

galileogirl's avatar

@girlofscience My use of punctuation is a form of rebellion

dalepetrie's avatar

@dynamicduo – I understand what you are saying but I disagree with your precept that it’s fundamentally flawed and doesn’t consider all points of view. It really was designed to take an extreme point of one side or the other, and see how much you agree or disagree with that. I mean each point there are 10 degrees of variation, it’s about how much do you agree with that statement. A libertarian would likely straddle the fence on some issues, and go far right some and far left on others. Consider questions about whether you think a big government can function well, a true libertarian would say no, as would a conservative, but conservatism is not libertarianism. A libertarian might however say there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality, the same as a liberal. You are being rated on one index, and the WHOLE point of the survey is not to dismiss all other points of view, but to in fact show where values in the US are similar and where they are divergent among various ideological viewpoints. The detail in this survey goes far beyond just this quiz, however for my purposes I simplified, just wanting to know if, as I suspected, your average Flutherite would end up on the more liberal end of the scale. I’m sure if you just dismissed this entire survey out of hat right away because it wasn’t framing the questions or addressing the issues as you would like to see them, then you would have a hard time finding any value in it whatsoever. To that I say, your loss.

To everyone who did take it however, including you, thank you, it’s interesting to see what people say.

kevinhardy's avatar

when i have all my belongings, im very progressive

dalepetrie's avatar

I was thinking about the critics of this a bit more, and on further consideration, the other point I would make about this is that the intention of the poll was NOT to come up with a blanket explanation of all of the different varieties of political thought, but to measure the attitudes of American on a Conservative to Progressive scale. To ignore3 the intrinsic value in such a measurement because there are other scales is in my opinion a bit myopic.

What I mean is this. Let’s say I wanted to conduct a study of the heights of the average American by race. And I could come up with statements like the average Caucasian is this height, the average African American is this height, the average Asian is this height and so on. On one hand, if it didn’t cover every possible combination of races, there would be critics. For example, say you’re 1/4 German, 1/4 Italian, 1/4 African and 1/4 Hispanic…well for the purposes of conducting a poll, you probably wouldn’t find anywhere near 1% of the population with that ethnic makeup, and there would be literally countless permutations that don’t fit neatly into a category…those might well be considered “mixed race” or “other” on such a scale. This person would probably feel the same way about the survey as a Libertarian would feel about a study to determine where you come in on the line between Conservative and Progressive thought. It doesn’t mean that the study if flawed or is not inclusive enough of people who meet these smaller categories, but let’s face it, if a HUGE portion of America was truly libertarian, then the Libertarians would be a much larger party, capable of winning national elections. In other words, Libertarians who don’t fit into one of the Conservative or Liberal self identifying factors probably don’t comprise a very huge portion of the population. Certainly that number of self identified McCain voters included some Libertarians, as well as some Democrats, just like the self identified Obama voters included some Libertarians AND some Republicans (not to mention the literally dozens of other parties one can associate one’s self with).

Or to look at it another way, it would be perhaps like condemning this survey of heights based on the fact that it was not height by weight or heigh by sex or height by religious or political affiliation. Point is, each of these statements was fair and each represented essentially a statement that was either 100% idealized Progressive/Liberal, or 100% antithetical to the Progressive/Liberal ideal, and the point was to determine how “Progressive” voters were in various groups and in general. It was NEVER intended to determine what your exact leanings were or to dismiss anything other than polar opposites as non-existent or not worth considering. It was simply meant to determine, “how progressive are YOU?” You could do a survey about how drunk are you and someone would bitch that they’re not drunk, they’re high…again, you’re misssing the point. And as to the idea of 10 points being a bad way to determine something, you may advocate for 5 data points, I may advocate for 100. Any method of getting at attitudes is going to have some inherent flaws, and someone who thinks outside the constraints of liberal/conservative might well have a number of either divergent 10 point/0 point answers and/or a number of 5 point answers where neither a yes nor a no describes their point of view, but overall, it’s a litmus test that says, “On this range of 40 topics, you can go this far right or this far left, or you can be somewhat more nuanced, but there really is nothing further left than x and nothing further right than y, so where do you stand on the x y axis?” That’s all it is.

What I mean is this

aidje's avatar

@dalepetrie To someone who falls at many points on that continuum (depending on the issue at hand), the idea of judging things by that continuum seems useless. The problem with the conservative/liberal dichotomy is that it causes people to conflate issues. For instance, if someone is against abortion, then most people will assume that they were/are in favor of the war in Iraq and are against Obama’s economic policies and homosexual marriage (among other things). Such assumptions are often true. Presumably, the value of using that continuum would come from the correlations that one would be able to draw from people’s results—and those correlations, for many people, simply do not hold. I could score a 150, a 200, or a 350, and I promise you, that would not tell you what my opinion was on a given issue. The number is worthless to me, because that dichotomy that works for so many people simply doesn’t make sense to me.

dalepetrie's avatar

Yes, aijde, but though it might seem useless to you, that’s not the point. The point is that as a collective society, we are thought to be “collectively” less progressive than many other nations. So the point is that though you realize that not everyone falls neatly into one of the two broad categories which have a stranglehold on our electoral system, to use the status quo definitions of Conservativism vs. Liberalism as those seem to represent a clear left/right continuum that all, even those who do not fall neatly in one category or another can understand. We use that continuum to determine then the attitudes of various groups of people. The point is not to extrapolate backwards from this to say, if you scored x points that means you believe these things, but to determine just how much of your core beliefs are in line with the progressive movement. Simple as that.

arnbev959's avatar

I scored 224/400. According to them, this makes me “progressive.” I thought I answered more conservatively than that.

girlofscience's avatar

I am currently in second place.

And pshaw, I know enough about expected political perspectives that I could have answered the quiz to score myself a 400, but I was honest.

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