There are lots of great nuggets in the Pew Research Center's 2012 American Values Survey, including the advertised finding that "Democratic and Republican values have become more partisan over the past 25 years." But I was most struck by the following two charts.
First, Pew asked respondents how "upset" they'd be if they heard someone did one of the following activities:
Notice how, in almost every case, it is Republicans who are more upset when someone doesn't play by the same rules. Judging from this chart alone, we would conclude that it is conservatives who care more about "fairness" than liberals. But now consider this chart:
It shows that Democrats strongly support the notion that government should make every possible effort to improve the position of minorities, even if it means giving them preferential treatment. Republicans strongly reject the same proposition. Judging by this chart, it is Democrats who care the most about "fairness."
What is going on here?
New York University School of Business professor Jonathan Haidt explains in his book The Righteous Mind:
Everyone cares about fairness, but there are two major kinds. On the left, fairness often implies equality, but on the right it means proportionality - people should be rewarded in proportion to what they contribute, even if that guarantees unequal outcomes.
The Fairness/cheating foundation is about proportionality and the law of karma. It is about making sure that people get what they deserve, and do not get things they do not deserve. Everyone - left, right, and center-cares about proportionality: everyone gets angry when people take more than they deserve. But conservatives care more, and they rely on the Fairness foundation more heavily - once fairness is restricted to proportionality.
We can see this same divide in the presidential race. The centerpiece of President Obama's reelection campaign is the Buffett Rule, which is motivated by income inequality and seeks to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has recently been attacking Obama for "crony capitalism," specifically the charge that much of the taxpayer money Obama spent on clean energy companies went to Obama donors.