Archive for October 21st, 2008

A Center-Right Country?

October 21, 2008

I hear all the time, including on this blog, occasionally, that America is a center-right country; that liberals and Democrats have to be careful not to go too far with their wild-eyed plans, because a basically conservative electorate will punish them for it; that their fundamental disconnect with “real Americans” leaves them on a short policy leash.

I keep hearing this asserted (the latest courtesy of Jon Meacham at Newsweek — famed for its flaming left-wing bias), but I never see any data for it adduced.  I’m not saying there isn’t any.  I’m just saying I’ve never seen it.  If it exists, I’d be interested in seeing it.  Meacham’s evidence isn’t data on Americans’ actual positions on the issues; it’s highly compressed historical anecdotes.  David Brooks makes a somewhat oblique version of the same argument, through the device of his very own “Joe the Plumber,” “Patio Man.”

Meanwhile, this guy does a pretty good job of making the counter-argument, assuming the polling data he cites is valid.  (At least he cites some.)  The key point(s), for me:

On foreign policy, on economic policy, on social policy, on just about everything, it’s the progressive position that is more popular. The median voter in 2008 is pro-choice, supports civil unions for gay Americans (a position that seemed insanely radical only a decade ago), rejects the Bush foreign policy, supported the recent increase in the minimum wage, wants strong environmental protections, favors reasonable restrictions on gun sales, thinks the wealthy and corporations don’t pay their fair share of taxes, and wants the government to guarantee universal health coverage.

What’s the countervailing data?  If anybody can provide links to it, I’d appreciate it.