With apologies to Re-Flex, the politics of housing that we normally talk about involves GSE reform, housing finance priorities, federal regulations and so on.

But politics very much enters into the consumer side of housing, too.

The partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans and between conservatives and liberals is widening, as you may have heard in news stories on a new Pew Poll survey or if you have a pulse and access to news media of any sort.

Further, both liberals and conservatives are getting more ideologically consistent than they were just 10 or 20 years ago. (The full report can be read here.)

We’ll let the pearl-clutchers and hand-wringers who crave political conformity over a diversity of ideas sweat that one – cue the talking heads at Fox, Politico, CNN or that cartoon network MSNBC.

(He still watches it.)

Buried in the Pew Poll, though is some interesting data related to housing.

There are areas of consensus, Pew finds.

Most Americans, regardless of their ideological preferences, value communities in which they would live close to extended family and high-quality schools.

Click the image to see the graph.

If they could choose anywhere to live, three-quarters of consistent conservatives prefer a community where “the houses are larger and farther apart, but schools, stores, and restaurants are several miles away.”

The preferences of consistent liberals are almost the exact inverse, with 77% saying they’d chose to live where “the houses are smaller and closer to each other, but schools, stores, and restaurants are within walking distance.”

Click the image to see the graph.

When it comes to the type of community they’d like to live in, liberals are drawn toward city life while conservatives prefer small towns and rural areas. Given the choice to live anywhere in the U.S., 41% of consistent conservatives would want to live in a rural area, and an additional 35% would choose a small town. Fewer consistent conservatives (20%) would prefer living in the suburbs and just 4% want to live in a city.

In a near mirror image, 46% of consistent liberals would choose to live in a city, and 21% would choose the suburbs; far fewer would pick a rural area (11%) or a small town (20%).

The preferences of less ideological Americans are more varied. Notably, the suburbs do not have a great deal of appeal for any ideological segment. And across age, gender and other demographic categories, there is no group that expresses a clear preference for living in the suburbs.

An analysis of the data finds that where liberals and conservatives actually live reflects their community preferences, with liberals about twice as likely as conservatives to live in urban areas, while conservatives are more concentrated in rural areas.

Despite their differing community preferences, liberals and conservatives generally share a desire to be close to family, good schools and the outdoors. However, when it comes to the ethnic, religious or political makeup of a community, there are clear ideological divides.'

Click the image to see the graph.

Substantial majorities across all ideological groups place importance on living near extended family, though consistent liberals are a bit less likely than others to say this.

Likewise, large majorities say “high-quality public schools” are important to decisions about where to live. Reflecting their stage of life, people age 55 and older are less likely than younger people to value good schools. To control for this lifecycle difference (and because older Americans tend to be more conservative ideologically), the analysis here is based only on those under 55.

Within this cohort, an emphasis on high-quality schools is slightly lower among conservatives than liberals. But across all ideological groups, this ranks as the top community priority of the eight items tested.

Click the image to see the graph.

Far more liberals than conservatives think it is important that a community have racial and ethnic diversity (76% vs. 20%). At the same time, conservatives are more likely than liberals to attach importance to living in a place where many people share their religious faith (57% vs. 17% of liberals).

As to the housing preferences of those of us who identify as neither liberal nor conservative, and neither as Republican nor Democrat?

I can only speak for a lot of libertarians. The answer is...

That’s none of your business. Am I being detained or am I free to go?

(Pictured: My new front addition.)