According to a Gallup poll, more people now self-identify as conservative than as liberal in all 50 American states. 40% of respondents have called themselves “conservative” or “very conservative,” while 21% call themselves liberal, and 35% moderate. As I’ve noted before in these ideological surveys, it’s hard to gauge the strength of a “moderate” bloc, as it’s generally people who cherry-pick positions from both sides or have no strong opinions either way.
Alabama has, no surprise, the biggest conservative majority, 49%-15%. New York and New Jersey have 6-point margins, and Obama’s home state of Illinois has a margin of 35-23%. My own state of Ohio has a margin of 39%-19% according to the state-by-state breakdown, and 3 states have conservative leads within the margin of error – Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Vermont.
Perhaps not surprisingly, only one area polled with more liberals (37%-23%) – Washington, D.C. Perhaps that might be a cause for all the dissatisfaction in national politics, hmmm?
What’s odd about the results is that with these ideological leanings, Democrats still hold an advantage in party identification in 30 states compared to 4 states for Republicans. Some on the left might crow about that, but the disparity suggests a yet-to-be-realized shift away from the Democrats as they move farther to the left in both rhetoric and policy. It is literally impossible to maintain power when you have an agenda that is opposite that of a majority of your constituents.
The ideological leanings illustrate another reason why Democrats, Blue Dog and otherwise, are becoming increasingly nervous over the health care debate. They know that if the bill is pushed too far to the left (as it would be with a public option), they’ll face the wrath of a voting public that isn’t on their side. This is where the Democrats complete lack of a centrist bipartisan agenda has harmed them since the 2008 election. Speaker Pelosi seems to be driving the push toward liberal interests that may please big party donors, but will ultimately severely harm the standing of the Democratic Party.
The Gallup analysis exposes a weakness that the GOP would be wise to exploit – if Democrats are found to be too liberal, they will not survive in an electoral environment poisonous to their agenda. So far they’ve been able to pass themselves off as moderate and centrist, but all that needs to be done is demonstrate the disparity between perception and reality as the Democratic Party has taken advantage of its majority to push through a raft of liberal agenda items.
It’s cause for optimism, but complacency is too tempting a path to ignore. If the GOP is too weak or mismanaged to take advantage of the nature of the American character, then it won’t matter at all that conservatives are in the decisive majority.
Cross-posted at Wellsy’s World.