Self-Identified “Moderates” are Liberals

Paul Waldman, “The Liberal Moderates”, The American Prospect Online, Oct 18, 2005

But who is the actual median voter in America? At this moment in history, that voter is pro-choice, wants to increase the minimum wage, favors strong environmental protections, likes gun control, thinks corporations have too much power and that the rich get away with not paying their fair share in taxes, believes the Iraq War was a mistake, wants a foreign policy centered on diplomacy and strong alliances, and favors civil unions for gays and lesbians. Yet despite all this, those voters identify themselves as “moderate.”

In fact, the people who call themselves “moderates” aren’t midway between the two parties. When you examine them as a group, you find that they look much more like liberals than conservatives. In every presidential election since 1988, the Democratic candidate has won more votes among moderates than the Republican candidate. According to National Election Studies (NES), 56 percent of moderates in 2004 associated themselves with the Democratic Party, while only 31 percent leaned Republican.

And it isn’t just party identification; on issue after issue, moderates have opinions almost exactly mirroring those of liberals. In the NES survey, 64 percent of liberals say we should increase spending on Social Security, as do 68 percent of moderates — while only 47 percent of conservatives agree. Eighty-eight percent of liberals and 84 percent of moderates say federal funding on education should be increased, compared to only 58 percent of conservatives. Seventy-three percent of liberals and 66 percent of moderates want more spending for child care — but only 38 percent of conservatives agree. Sixty-two percent of liberals and 57 percent of moderates want to spend more on aid to the poor, compared to only 39 percent of conservatives.

Via Paul Czege. The author goes on to discuss strategies for liberals to win by attacking Conservatism as a whole the way conservatives attack Liberalism as a whole. Don’t know that I find that very helpful. But it’s nice to know that most Americans are what Washington calls “liberal,” though they do not use that label for themselves.

2 thoughts on “Self-Identified “Moderates” are Liberals”

  1. They say the center in the US is mid-right on the world political spectrum. So I wonder (with hope in my heart) whether this report really just means that Americans aren’t that different from everyone else. Our political and media elites set the tone of our political discourse here in the US. Another interesting thing here is that it points out the disconnect between these elites and the people they claim to represent.

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