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news & opinion with no titillating non-news from the major non-news channels.


I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Reblogged: 2006
   Quantifying What Everyone Already Knows

The New York Times released their NYT/CBS Poll results for the week of May 4-8, 2006. I am not a big fan of polls. Too much emphasis is oft placed on the voluminous minutiae of the Numbers of the Week game, and on emaciated summaries of long term trends. There is a lot of fascinatingly boring stuff in the NYT/CBS Poll, but what I find most curious, and unsurprising, is the details in one of the long term polling results.

Since 1992, the Poll has reported on the following question,

How would you describe your views on most political matters? Generally, do you think of yourself as liberal, moderate, or conservative?

A simple straightforward question that can only confuse and frustrate the most ardent career-minded politician. But guess what? The trend on all possible answers has been remarkably flat. Individual political orientations do not change with the prevailing wind. That must be why the NYT puts that data at the very bottom, along with all the other tediously boring demographic information. No news is bad news.

But for 14 years, self-reported political orientations have fluctuated around a solid base by no more than 3 or 4%.

Liberal - 20%, Moderate - 42%, Conservative - 33%

Tuesday, James Joyner reprinted another related observation from Rollcall.com whilst he explained Why 2006 Isn’t Like 1994,

In a recent New Models survey, we asked voters to place Democrats, Republicans and themselves on a nine-point ideological scale with one being “very liberal” and nine “very conservative.” Of those tested, voters perceived Howard Dean as the most liberal at 3.7. They gave the Democratic Party a 3.9 rating. Both President Bush and the Republican Party got a 6.6 rating. The numbers take on real meaning, however, when put in the context of how voters see themselves ideologically. On average, voters put their own political ideology at 5.7 - clearly center-right, and within less than a point of the GOP. The voters’ perception of Democrats, on the other hand, was significantly to their left.

I think this goes a long way to validating my own personal belief that people are not stupid. While most people maintain lifelong beliefs and values, politicians scamper through the middle ground harvesting support. True, you need broad support to win elections, but we expect the consensus of political parties to shift as factions come and go. But not individual people, unless they suffer from a multiple personality disorder.

So as John Kerry continues to sail the political winds, as Al Gore "re-invents" himself more times than the Internet switches data packets, as Hillary Clinton navigates the shoals and fights a headwind towards the distant center of the channel; the only Democrats of Character, the only Democrats who have taken political stands are the ones appealing to that Liberal 20%. Dean. Wellstone. Kennedy.

Not that I enjoy preaching to the choir (ok, maybe a little), but now I understand, in excruciating detail, why Howard Dean is still running the Democratic show....

The Democrats still don't get it.


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