Aug 17 2009

USA Still A Center Right Nation – But Can GOP Capitalize?

Published by at 6:47 pm under 2010 Elections,All General Discussions

It is no surprise to most people that America on average leans far more to the conservative side of things than the liberal side. In fact, Gallup has come out with a large study showing that self described ‘conservatives’ outnumber ‘liberals’ in all 50 states. It is so one sided that there is only one part of the nation (DC of course) considered liberal – the rest of the nation is scored by how much more conservative it is than liberal:

So why do we have a Democrat Congress and President if the nation leans very much to the right? Well, it must have something to do with how ‘true conservatives’ on the far right (now in exile) repulsed the center of the nation to the point it was willing to experiment with centrist sounding Democrats. It was a big risk, but the angry, insulting, pure conservatives pretty much had run out their welcome over many issues where they derided anyone who looked to progress on issues over purity.

The fact is the largest political affiliation is independents, followed by democrats, with Republicans coming in last place at half the size of the independents, as shown in this recent survey from Pew Research:

I have had a lot of ‘true conservatives’ making the laughable claim the drubbing of the GOP was due to centrist approaches to prescription drugs under Medicare and Medicaid, as well as centrist proposals on comprehensive immigration reform. These delusional fantasies are really hysterical since, if this was really what ‘America’ wanted the Dems would not be in power today. The more the Amnesty Hypochondriacs raged at reasonable solutions and penalties to immigration, the more elections the GOP lost.

At I must note that the Iraq war also could not be the source of the center bailing on the GOP. So far President Obama is getting high marks for his continuation of President Bush’s policies on Iraq, Afghanistan and the FISA-NSA changes made since 9-11.

The place where the Democrats screwed up was in far left policies (along with demagogic rage at the middle mirroring the GOP blunders) that have failed or scared the center. The failed stimulus bill, the threat of government run health care rationing services to the needy, and the idea of taxing energy to cool a planet that has been cooling for over a decade (and will continue to do so for another decade or two longer) was a naive over reach.

The thing the GOP needs to take from all this is not to  repeat the mistakes both fringes have made over the last few years. You need to cater to the middle, not insult them with single minded solutions no one really believes in outside the fringe echo chambers. One key thing to note in the Gallup survey, with its precise +/- 1% MoE and large samples, is that moderates are always around a third of the population in all states. Insult them and demand allegiance to partisan purity and you will be dumped next election.

So far the liberals have given a broad conservative coalition an wide opening to take control of the government in the coming election cycles. The only way to screw that up is for some to destroy that potential coalition by not accepting and respecting the conservative middle of the nation – and giving them their just seats at the table of governance.

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “USA Still A Center Right Nation – But Can GOP Capitalize?”

  1. colin says:

    AJ,

    You can’t just blame W’s fortunes on the “true conservatives” who abandoned him. W got stamped with the “failure” moniker because, before the selfish “true conservatives” abandoned him, the “moderates” threw him overboard.

    You could tell when this happened by listening to Mort Kondrake on Fox, or reading him in Roll Call. A lot of other centrists followed suit. They were the ones who started screaming “incompetent!” before the conservatives were (including the “true conservatives”).

    The reason Obama is getting high marks on wars and policies Bush implemented, whereas Bush was pilloried for actually instuting those policies (and being honest and forthright to boot, in marked contrast to Obama’s leadership style as Commander-in-Chief), is because people have short memories, they had already been posioned against Bush the last time anybody polled them on these subjects, and, frankly, because the public is fickle.

    I am not going to come in here and defend the “true conservatives”. I read a whole bunch of conservative websites daily, and most of them, and most of the conservative commentators, display a thinly-veiled contempt, if not an outright hostility towards Bush. They blame him for all of the right’s failures, while never even considering that the right may have failed him, in essence punishing him for being an honest and honorable man in a profession marked by its dishonesty.

    However, those moderates, those centrists, were the first ones to stab him in the back. The Chuck Hagels and Colin Powells and Richard Armitages provided ballast to the charges and complaints the leftist fever swamps were developing from 2002 onward. Both camps are deserving of my animosity, at least. They combined are the reason that a truly good man is commonly and casually referred to on almost a daily basis as a disaster of epic and historical proportions.

    I’ve always felt this is kind of a cop-out to say, but a pox on both their houses. They are the failures, not Bush.

  2. Frogg1 says:

    I think the whole issue of how independents swing (back and forth) is pretty complicated.

    AJ, the Iraq War was a major issue for the Dems against the Repubs in 2008. Go back and listen to them on the campaign trail. I don’t think it was Bush’s policies either, I think Americans were simply war weary and not seeing Iraq progress move fast enough.

    Obama may fall into the same scenerio with Afghanistan in 2010.

    We disagree on the immigration issue still. If Repubs screwed up the immigration issue so badly that they lost elections in 2008 due to it, then why have they been more trusted on the immigration issue consistently since February 2009? Nothing has happened on immigration this year to change anything.

    And, then there is this:

    70% of Voters Say Gaining Control of Borders is More Important Than Legalizing Undocumented Workers (8/14/09)
    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/most_recent_videos2/politics/70_of_voters_say_gaining_control_of_borders_is_more_important_than_legalizing_undocumented_workers

    Americans clearly wanted “border security” first. Even McCain had to admit that before he ran for President. And, while 70% say “border control” is main priority; the importance of a pathway to citizenship is more evenly divided (52% important/ 41% not important/7% unsure).

    Other than that, I agree with you that the country is “center right” and you would think a “center right” coalition could be successful. I still think the Repubs have a message problem, but there has been some improvement. I think they could learn from Palin’s recent approach on this aspect. She comes out and says it fearlessly in plain English, sticks by it, and handles rebuttles with lightning speed. As a matter of fact, they could learn from some of those knowledgable town hall people also.

    And, yes, tone of conversation matters. But, you can’t reign everyone in.

  3. Frogg1 says:

    PS to my above rant.

    Just came across this and it makes my point about Afghanistan:

    The American people are growing increasingly wary. In a new CNN/Opinion research poll, fully 54% of respondents now say they oppose the U.S.-led fight against the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. Those are striking numbers, and a serious warning to the Obama administration.
    http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2009/08/17/2009-08-17_obama_must_learn_from_vietnam_gen_wesley_clark_gives_the_president_advice_for_af.html?print=1&page=all

    I, of course support our efforts in Afghanistan (as I did in Iraq). I just wish Gen Wesley Clark (author of above article) was as supportive of Bush as he is trying to be for Obama.

  4. AJStrata says:

    Frogg,

    I agree with much of that article, but the truth is the centrists don’t flip flop. When insulted for not being as pure as the purists they move on. That is clearly indicated by the fact the independents are growing and neither party is – people are fed up with the partisans.

  5. DJStrata says:

    Here is one former Republican who has turned Independent. In VA we are not registered with any party but being Chairman of College Republicans at my school kind of screams it. But after watching both the national and state level Republicans and their “purist” actions and talk I walked away. This whole system is built on compromise. Each party has their beliefs and goals, but once elected they are suppose to work together and compromise to make decisions that benefit all of America, which they represent!

    “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” George Washington

  6. BarbaraS says:

    It’s true that independents as a whole are fed up with partisans but more and more are leaving their parties because of policies. The dems are leaving because it is occurring to them that their party has gone too far to the left. Republicans are leaving the GOP because they feel it is a do nothing party and full of elitists who do not resonate with their beliefs. Then again, a lot of republicans (and I am one of them) resent them flipping off Sarah Palin as a drag on the party.

    There are a lot of elitist republicans who still feel the only eligible people for public office are graduates of the ivy league. The centrists feel that the ivy league is full of idiots and don’t want to vote for them. The GOP has this quaint idea that the nominees for office should be the next one in line. Not who is electable but who’s turn it is i.e. Bob Dole.

    The GOP is always calling me and inundating me with mail asking for money. When they call I tell them when the GOP gets a spine then I might contribut to them, otherwise not. And the pundits on our side (sorta) do nothing for our cause. I have toyed with the idea of becoming an independent but why bother. I will never ever vote for a democrat and as far as I am concerned that is the only other choice.

  7. [...] I bring this up since I’ve been reading about the recent Gallup results mentioned over at Malkin’s blog, Power Line, and the Strata Sphere. [...]

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