Two polls that signal the United States is still a center-right nation

posted at 3:25 pm on January 13, 2012 by Tina Korbe

It’s true that ultra-conservatives (and I’m one of ‘em!) often wrongly assume they’ll be backed up by the public at large when they support “Hail Mary” policies (balanced budget amendments, a fair tax, the Ryan plan, etc.) or when they wish for a complete repudiation of the Obama presidency in the 2012 presidential election. We get ourselves into trouble by telling ourselves “fairy tales that everyone is on [our] side and just waiting to discover the fact.” The Tea Party, as it turns out, is not a microcosm of the entire country.

Nevertheless, the United States is still a center-right nation, as two recent pieces of evidence attest. Firstly, Gallup yesterday released a poll that shows conservatives remain the largest ideological group in the U.S.

Political ideology in the U.S. held steady in 2011, with 40% of Americans continuing to describe their views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. This marks the third straight year that conservatives have outnumbered moderates, after more than a decade in which moderates mainly tied or outnumbered conservatives.

The percentage of Americans calling themselves “moderate” has gradually diminished in the U.S. since it was 43% in 1992. That is the year Gallup started routinely measuring ideology with the current question. It fell to 39% in 2002 and has been 35% since 2010. At the same time, the country became more politically polarized, with the percentages of Americans calling themselves either “conservative” or “liberal” each increasing.

Secondly, Gallup today released a poll that shows Americans remain relatively unconcerned about income inequality, suggesting that most still buy into the American idea that all human beings deserve equal opportunity but not necessarily equal results.

Although Americans’ economic confidence is edging up, it is still low on an absolute basis, and economic concerns remain the dominant response when Americans are asked to name the most important problem facing the country. Gallup included this open-ended question in its Jan. 5-8 survey to find out more about the underlying nature of Americans’ economic concerns as this election year begins. Readers are encouraged to read all 1,000 Americans’ verbatim responses to this question.

Americans’ concerns about the federal deficit and the inability of elected officials in Washington to deal with the economy, including the executive and legislative branch, tracks with the very low ratings that the government and Congress have received over the past year.

Few Americans say that inequality or the gap between the rich and poor worries them, and a small 3% mention that the power of corporations and their influence on the economy is what worries them the most about the economy. …

Obama’s focus on inequality and the lack of a fair chance in today’s economy for middle- and low-class Americans does not reflect Americans’ top economic concerns, at least as measured by Gallup’s open-ended question. But, a small percentage of Americans mention the unhealthy power of big business or corporations or the rich.

In other words, Obama’s class warfare rhetoric might help to shore up his base, but does little to reach mainstream Americans.

Taken together, the polls ought to be a reassurance that conservatives could move the ball steadily down the field just by relentlessly pursuing policies that are in line with what the majority of Americans really want.


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The polls don’t vote!
Single that at election time!

KOOLAID2 on January 13, 2012 at 3:28 PM

This is why candidates like Obama have to lie in order to get elected. If they ever told the truth about their mission and intentions, they’d never get the votes.

The Rogue Tomato on January 13, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Uh oh. Certain new open registrants hard hit.

Kataklysmic on January 13, 2012 at 3:32 PM

I always argued that the question asked by the poll is misleading. Is a public union member who goes to the Mess every Sunday conservative? Is a welfare queen urban Latino who opposed abortions conservative? Heck, I’m not even sure whether I am conservative…

Archivarix on January 13, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Too bad the right doesn’t have a Party to belong to where they can actually get a conservative nominee. Explains why so many have changed from a party to independent.

lea on January 13, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Mm-hmm. Suuure we are.

If this is ‘center-right’, I’d hate to see ‘liberal’.

MelonCollie on January 13, 2012 at 3:35 PM

What you are say is that 60% of Americans aren’t conservative. Those in the middle might lean center right on economics until their oxes are gored then they vote for the left’s candidate. Look at what this “center right” nation has allowed in the name of “personal peace and affluence”

chemman on January 13, 2012 at 3:35 PM

10% of Democrats think they are conservatives…
And Ms. Korbe…I don’t know that I would consider the Ryan Plan a “Hail Mary” Pass…it’s just reasonable policy to keep us from going to hell. If reasonably sound policy to keep us from going to hell is only supported by “ultra-conservatives,” then keeping the rest of em from taking us to hell. When we get there the Devil better run the place like a dictatorship too…because the virus of liberalism that these NON “ultra conservatives” are infected with…

Will get his fiery mortgage repoed.

WL on January 13, 2012 at 3:37 PM

In 2010 in nominating for Senate Buck CO .. O’Donnell DE .. Angle NV the Tea Partiers made a mistake by feeling that all the aspects of their intense feelings were shared widely. Find the crux. Nevertheless, anti-big-govt are at an all time high, and the very word ‘moderate’ has become a pejorative.
Mitt is no moderate,, yes… despite his own 2002 tepidly expressed words. He governed as a conservative, and Mittbots should concisely show this.

More important for Mitt, to shake the ‘moderate curse,’ I implore you to do something(s) now to cause a stir that makes you appear more conservative. You will gain even among left leaners, and you will battle the false ‘man without a core’ meme.

anotherJoe on January 13, 2012 at 3:38 PM

If America is a center right nation explain to me why we are about to have an elections between 2 liberals?

liberal4life on January 13, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Does not surprise me, this is entirely in line with previous polls.

WolvenOne on January 13, 2012 at 3:39 PM

If we’re such a center-right nation, why do whe have this disaster for a president and 15 trillion dollars of debt?

There clearly a disconnect somewhere along the line.

chalons on January 13, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Gingrich, Huntsman and Santorum will not be on the ballot in VA. Breaking.

Philly on January 13, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Doesn’t really matter without valid voter ID laws.

a capella on January 13, 2012 at 3:44 PM

OT: Fox just broke the news that Perry, Santo and Huntsman just lost the VA primary. Not that the race for them would have been long over for them by Super Tuesday anyeay, but this makes it official.

MJBrutus on January 13, 2012 at 3:45 PM

If we’re such a center-right nation, why do whe have this disaster for a president and 15 trillion dollars of debt?

There clearly a disconnect somewhere along the line.

chalons on January 13, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Two factors, primarily, lack of attention. Most people simply assume that politicians with an R or a D next to their name roughly share their values, and do no dig deeper.

Second, 2008 scared people, and after 8 years of Bush people were already inclined to vote democratic. The two advantages devastated the GOP, both in Washington and on the state level.

Incidentally, this is why we have such lousy candidates this time around. Senators and House Reps make poor candidates, and we have very few GOP governors with long records.

WolvenOne on January 13, 2012 at 3:45 PM

most still buy into the American idea that all human beings deserve equal opportunity but not necessarily equal results.

Yes, equal opportunity–let the results take care of themselves.

21% as liberal

Hmm, only 21%, eh? Yeah, those libs are like cockroaches–always seems as if there are soooooooo many more of them than there really are!

stukinIL4now on January 13, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Philly on January 13, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Really? I hadn’t heard or missed it if Newt was turned down too.

MJBrutus on January 13, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Just like to point out that Jon Huntsman is the only candidate to have openly supported the “Hail Mary/ultra-conservative” policy known as the Ryan Plan.

Carry on.

Aizen on January 13, 2012 at 3:47 PM

In 2010 in nominating for Senate Buck CO .. O’Donnell DE .. Angle NV the Tea Partiers made a mistake by feeling that all the aspects of their intense feelings were shared widely.

anotherJoe on January 13, 2012 at 3:38 PM

The big mistake that the “Tea Party” made in the case of O’Donnell and Angle was selecting weak candidates. O’Donnell especially was an extremely unqualified moron who should have never even been considered as a possibility to be U.S. Senator. Embarrassing to the party.

McDuck on January 13, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Most Americans would still rather take care of themselves and reject the idea of the nanny state with preening elitists telling us all how to live.

That brand of conservatism, my brand, can be summed up as “LEAVE ME THE HE LL ALONE!!” conservatism.

We dread with mortal fear the words “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Charlemagne on January 13, 2012 at 3:50 PM

MJBrutus, Fox just confirmed that. Newt booted off in his home state.

Philly on January 13, 2012 at 3:51 PM

McDuck on January 13, 2012 at 3:48 PM

The TP has been horribly served by most of those who claim to speak for it.

MJBrutus on January 13, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Philly on January 13, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Aw shucks.

MJBrutus on January 13, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Conservative in thought, but not in deed. We borrow ourselves into massive debt for instant gratification; demand and protect every last government benefit, every pension, retirement ant disability we can muster; demand fidelity and honesty in our officials, but don’t practice it ourselves. The real majority are hypocrites.

michaelo on January 13, 2012 at 3:52 PM

The squishes in the middle decide all things and they are unreliable and indecisive.

Schadenfreude on January 13, 2012 at 3:53 PM

A center right country doesn’t vote a Communist into the Oval Office.

To paraphrase a quote about statistics:

There are lies, damned lies, and then there are polls.

America is moving left, because her people have slowly been turned into cattle.

OhEssYouCowboys on January 13, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Independents are about as independent as lefties are liberal or progressive.

Schadenfreude on January 13, 2012 at 3:54 PM

If America is a center right nation explain to me why we are about to have an elections between 2 liberals?

liberal4life on January 13, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Conservatives tend to avoid government because we believe in self-sufficiency and working through private organizations. Government tends to attract a bunch of do-gooders and control freaks who want to tell the rest of us how to live. Mitt Romney is just another elitist who thinks he, and government, know how to manage our lives better than we do ourselves.

Charlemagne on January 13, 2012 at 3:54 PM

If America is a center right nation explain to me why we are about to have an elections between 2 liberals?

liberal4life on January 13, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Because of the spineless jelly fish in the middle

Schadenfreude on January 13, 2012 at 3:55 PM

If America is a center right nation explain to me why we are about to have an elections between 2 liberals?

liberal4life on January 13, 2012 at 3:39 PM

The people that sent you here…did they tell you the primary is over?
Then, should’nt you be going home?

KOOLAID2 on January 13, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Polls can be misleading. I’m pretty sure Mickey Mouse and dead voters weren’t interviewed, so this won’t reflect in election results.

What you are say is that 60% of Americans aren’t conservative.chemman on January 13, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Or, alternately, 79% of Americans aren’t liberal.

If America is a center right nation explain to me why we are about to have an elections between 2 liberals?

liberal4life on January 13, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Everybody’s a conservative during the campaign season. Even Obama was praising the troops and preaching deficit reduction when he wasn’t calling his own potential constituents bitter gun-clingers.

The Schaef on January 13, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Charlemagne on January 13, 2012 at 3:54 PM

+ multi-million

Schadenfreude on January 13, 2012 at 3:55 PM

I don’t know that I would consider the Ryan Plan a “Hail Mary” Pass…

WL on January 13, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Well it is in the sense that it will take nothing less than Divine Intervention to get it passed.

squint on January 13, 2012 at 3:56 PM

This is why candidates like Obama have to lie in order to get elected. If they ever told the truth about their mission and intentions, they’d never get the votes.

The Rogue Tomato on January 13, 2012 at 3:28 PM

But this is a reflection of a stupid electorate.

Schadenfreude on January 13, 2012 at 3:58 PM

If these people only ACTED like they THINK -there would be NO RINO ROMNEY, NO OBOZO, NO AMNESTY-JOHN MCCAIN, NO D-CRAT SOCIALIST MEDIA, NO DESPICABLE HOLLYWOOD DEGENERATES,…..

In other words, America would be GREAT AGAIN.

TeaPartyNation on January 13, 2012 at 3:59 PM

I know poor reading comprehension and interpretation of data is a hallmark of the Hot Air brand, but here goes:

- Just because respondents don’t list income inequality as the most important issue in the country, that doesn’t mean they’re “unconcerned” about it. If “the economy in general” improves, income inequality becomes less of an issue.

- Moderate + Liberal = 56%, Conservative = 40%. This makes America “center-right” how? There are spectra within each label, so how can you say where the emphasis lies? You’re splitting the moderates down the middle and giving liberal and conservative equal shares? Do you believe most conservatives fit the rabid homophobic birther anti-government anti-science corporate toadies found on these pages?

If that’s true, next year’s election results will be a big, unpleasant surprise for you.

Constantine on January 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Just because people self identify as something does not make it so. Right now with Obama’s leftist failings many people are going to be arguing that they are nothing like him.

astonerii on January 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM

If the US is center-right than how come Democrat talking points have so much appeal for Americans. I ask as a frustrated conservative.

earlgrey133 on January 13, 2012 at 4:02 PM

New CNN poll has Mittens as the national front-runner, with 34%, meanwhile, Newt has 18% and Santorum/Paul each at 15%.

So much for “conservatism.”

Aizen on January 13, 2012 at 4:02 PM

You know what we need around here…?

… Another poll.

/

Seven Percent Solution on January 13, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Nevertheless, the United States is still a center-right nation, as two recent pieces of evidence attest.

Howls of denial coming out of the Newtist colony! Later today there’ll be a communique from the People’s Republic of Pelosi’s Couch re-stating Newty “Che” Gingrich’s commitment to making the world safe from capitalism!

cicerone on January 13, 2012 at 4:05 PM

The problem is the news media and that most will not take the time to comprehend the conservative answer. A bumper sticker is too much for most voters to understand. They want to “save” everyone right now!

growl on January 13, 2012 at 4:07 PM

If the US is center-right than how come Democrat talking points have so much appeal for Americans. I ask as a frustrated conservative.

earlgrey133 on January 13, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Three reasons imo:

1)The professions that have the ability to influence opinion (media, academia, law) draw a dramatically disproportionate number of people with liberal sensibilities

2) Those people inject their political biases into their work

Kataklysmic on January 13, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Kataklysmic on January 13, 2012 at 4:10 PM

and 3) Many conservatives are too busy living their lives to have figured out one and two.

(sorry, hit submit early)

Kataklysmic on January 13, 2012 at 4:11 PM

What is interestng is that a liberal President who began his term with 90% popularity has actually driven down the number of people who identify as liberals.

THAT’s the number that ought to scare liberals. They have always, always said that once we got a real liberal President everyone would see that liberal policy works and makes people happy. Markos Moulitsas was crowing after the 2008 election that conservatism was DEAD and would never recover, and liberal/progressive would no longer be dirty words.

The Republican nominee starts out this election with 40% of the vote, while Obama starts out with 21%. Who has the more difficult task trying to present himself as a moderate to appeal to those moderate voters? Why is Obama actually running to the Left? Does anyone think this makes sense in light of these numbers?

rockmom on January 13, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Why is Obama actually running to the Left? Does anyone think this makes sense in light of these numbers?

rockmom on January 13, 2012 at 4:12 PM

I’m shocked at his recent power grabs with the “recess” appointments, etc. I know his advisors are telling him to do this to feed the “running against a do nothing congress” narrative, but I think it is going to backfire. It will remind people of how he wiped his a$$ with the constitution while shoving Obamacare down our collective throats.

Kataklysmic on January 13, 2012 at 4:16 PM

If we’re such a center-right nation, why do whe have this disaster for a president and 15 trillion dollars of debt?

There clearly a disconnect somewhere along the line.

chalons on January 13, 2012 at 3:40 PM

We have a hard-left elite. They mostly control the political system. It matters little what the lower classes believe if they lack political power, and it’s been the same in most countries all throughout history.

Doomberg on January 13, 2012 at 4:19 PM

In today’s America, we have warning labels on everything from screwdrivers to science textbooks. In today’s America, we have people who receive help on their energy bills yet don’t even consider taking ten minutes to sell their Xbox 360s and Wiis on Craigslist. In today’s America, a man can date 25 women on a TV show and millions of people will watch.

Let’s face it. A significant portion of Americans are idiots and people who make money off of these idiots. Politicians on both the left and the right can and will take advantage of America’s increasing stupidity level. It came as no surprise to me that Obama was elected despite most of the country being center-right.

McDuck on January 13, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Our nation is right-leaning, but our leaders are usually chosen by a combination of timing and the actual individual that’s running.

If the nation were truly lopsided on one ideology (like conservatism) then Obama would have never been President with a 60 seat Democrat Senate and full control of the House. Republicans would win no matter who we ran or the conditions on the ground. Obviously, that’s just not true.

That’s why I get so sick of conservatives that make idiotic statements like “If you just run a REAL conservative, they’ll win a landslide every time.” Bullshit.

Candidate quality MATTERS if you’re actually serious about winning elections and changing public policy. If you are just interested in being “dead right”, you nominate Sharon Angle and Christine O’Donnell type Republicans that end up electing left-wing Democrats that drive us further into a ditch.

BradTank on January 13, 2012 at 4:22 PM

As much as I would like to believe this survey, voting patterns tell me that people knowingly answer the pollster in a manner that makes the respondent feel better, but doesn’t reflect their actual beliefs as reflected by how they pull the lever when they enter the polling booth. If we were a center right nation, we would not have as many leftist laws on the books as we do.

Rugged Terrain on January 13, 2012 at 4:41 PM

This is why candidates like Obama have to lie in order to get elected. If they ever told the truth about their mission and intentions, they’d never get the votes.

The Rogue Tomato on January 13, 2012 at 3:28 PM

This.

Democrats win elections by campaigning to the right of how they want to govern.

Republicans lose elections by running people that want to govern to the left of how the people actually want to be governed.

digitalhap on January 13, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Probably the same percentage disconnect for people who self-identify as “center-right” or “conservative,” yet vote otherwise, as for people who self-identify as “Christian”, yet who Iive otherwise. Neither group understands, can articulate, and only practices when convenient, if at all, the principles they profess to pollsters.

de rigueur on January 13, 2012 at 4:45 PM

This is why candidates like Obama have to lie in order to get elected. If they ever told the truth about their mission and intentions, they’d never get the votes.

The Rogue Tomato on January 13, 2012 at 3:28 PM

This.

Democrats win elections by campaigning to the right of how they want to govern.

Republicans lose elections by running people that want to govern to the left of how the people actually want to be governed.

digitalhap on January 13, 2012 at 4:44 PM

This. And This.

de rigueur on January 13, 2012 at 4:47 PM

center-right nation? They need to run those polls again, since they are both obviously wrong. We have a communist for President, and a socialist winning the Republican primaries…

Karmi on January 13, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Seven Percent Solution on January 13, 2012 at 4:03 PM

lol

peachaeo on January 13, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Seven Percent Solution on January 13, 2012 at 4:03 PM

I need to see some polling data on that first. It might be true. It might not.

Axe on January 13, 2012 at 5:25 PM

These polls that show the nation being center right are useless. If that were true, Obama and Rinos and no democrats would ever be elected. Pay no attention to this BS poll.

they lie on January 13, 2012 at 5:26 PM

70% of Democrats are communists, 30% are centrists/conservative
70% of Republicans are conservative, 30% are centrist/liberal

Here’s the bigg difference though

Democrat leaders listen to their 70% base and govern like communists.

Republicans beat up on their 70% base and govern like liberals.

Hence why we are about to have an election betwen Obama(Communist) and Romney (liberal).

angryed on January 13, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Democrat leaders listen to their 70% base and govern like communists.

Republicans beat up on their 70% base and govern like liberals.

Agreed angryed. And the pundits and Washington elite help both parties to do this.

jazzuscounty on January 13, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Alternative headline: America is a wishy-washy RINO nation. =)

humili mente on January 13, 2012 at 6:04 PM

70% of Democrats are communists, 30% are centrists/conservative

What makes someone a communist? As defined by Glenn Beck?

bayam on January 13, 2012 at 6:18 PM

It all comes down to your definition of “what center is”. And what is it measured against. Asking “what is center-right” is like asking what is “the ideal global temperature”. In 1800′s center was no where near where it is now, even in 1950′s center so far off what is perceived as center it is out in left field. If center circa 1900′s is the 50 yard line the progressives have moved it so far over the last 100 years to be around the 20 yard line to the left and have repainted the lines so that one side has 80 yard but have spread out the lines so much it looks like 50 yard. One will not know that unless they get a yard stick and see the lines are off.

Some think Obama is center and they have convinced many that he is. So when they use him as a marker the world is going down no matter what a polls says.

tjexcite on January 13, 2012 at 6:19 PM

If the respondents “self-identify” it is no wonder the obviously incorrect numbers in the poll. Look at how many of the GOP candidates self-identify as conservative but they aren’t.

cigarcamel on January 13, 2012 at 7:04 PM

America doesn’t want a socon to be President so I came up with this stuff to make a post out of and feel better Part 497

Moesart on January 13, 2012 at 11:51 PM

test

VorDaj on January 14, 2012 at 10:48 PM