If you wanted to know who the hell’s voting for amnesty among the congressional GOP, here you go. Now you know.
Seriously, though. Fourteen percent? If you believe CNN, there are more GOPers who disapprove of O for not being as liberal as they’d like than there are who approve of him for being as liberal as he is. Dude?
Meanwhile, the not-liberal-enough segment stands at eight percent among self-identified conservatives(!). What gives? My first thought was “margin of error.” Any time you take a small-ish subsample like “Republicans” or “conservatives,” the MOE creeps up and suddenly you’re at risk of weird, anomalous results. But the MOE here isn’t gigantic: For Republicans, it’s six percent. Even if you subtract that entire amount, you’ve got eight percent of GOPers seemingly wishing O really was the statist gladiator that lefty media dreams of. What about tea partiers, you say? Behold:
Unless the only responses accounted for in the subsample margin of error are people who said they disapprove of O because he’s not liberal enough, you’ve got some small but not infinitesimal group of TPers in this boat too. What gives? Why would anyone call themselves a member of the tea party if they feel that way?
I think Harry Enten’s on the right track about the use of the word “liberal” in the question:
— Harry Enten (@ForecasterEnten) December 20, 2013
More from Republican poll analyst Logan Dobson:
— Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) December 20, 2013
Yeah, “liberal” is a gassy term. We know what we mean when we use it because we’re like-minded partisans, but what about low-information voters who don’t follow politics? Or, on the flip side, what about politically conscious right-leaning voters whose beliefs depart in a few key ways from mainstream conservatism? If you’re a libertarian for whom NSA surveillance is a major issue, you might identify as Republican generally but dislike O especially for not taking a more “liberal” view of the sort of data-mining that’s championed by conservative hawks. Likewise, if you think Obama’s been too aggressive in intervening abroad, you may equate interventionism with conservatism because of Bush’s example and conclude that O should be more “liberal.” In fact, some libertarians identify as “classical liberals” because they refuse to cede the term to leftists who use it as a rallying point for illiberal statist ends. There’s just too darned much room for interpretation in the term and too great a risk that people will apply it as a blanket designation even though they have only one or maybe two issues in mind here when they use it. Same goes for the eight percent of Democrats who think Obama’s too “liberal.” Why is that? Is it because they’re centrists generally who have numerous problems with O’s agenda, or are they mostly dogmatic Democrats who disagree sharply with O on one key topic, like abortion or gay marriage? Probably the latter, I’d guess.
The one truly interesting wrinkle about this is that the overall number who say Obama’s not liberal enough is a bit higher this month than it’s been traditionally. Skip to page 3 of CNN’s crosstabs to see how that metric has polled over time. Only in July and August 2011, in the thick of his first standoff with the GOP over the debt ceiling, did the “not liberal enough” crowd hit double digits. I think it’s back to 12 percent now partly because of upset over the NSA program and partly because, as ObamaCare crumbles, the further reaches of the left are starting to fantasize about the public option and single-payer.