But have Americans really moved left? No, they didn't. Let’s look at some recent polling data. . .
The Democratic Party Is Crashing
Despite the Democrats total control of the Congress and the White House, the American public is very unhappy with the course the Democrats have charted. Indeed, only 30% of Americans think we are headed in the right direction -- a number that should be much higher if the public had shifted left.
And this reflects in people’s opinions about the parties. A full 54% of Americans now say the average Congressional Democrat is too liberal (only 36% believe the average Republican is too conservative). Consequently, for four weeks now, the Republicans have led the Democrats in the generic Congressional ballot (42% to 38%). This lead is similar to 1994, when the Republicans captured the Congress for the first time since dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
Moreover, Americans now trust Republicans more than Democrats on eight of ten key electoral issues:
(click on chart to enlarge)
Obama Is Crashing Too
Obama too has lost steam. He is now seen as liberal by 76% of Americans, with 48% describing him as "very liberal." This is not good news for Obama as only 20% of Americans view the description "liberal"” as a positive.
This fact reflects in his approval rating, which has fallen to 49% for the first time. And this is after his 55% June approval rating made him the tenth least-liked President of the last twelve at that point in his presidency. He beat out only Clinton and Gerald Ford.
Further, a majority (53%) of Americans now think that it is somewhat likely that the next President will be a Republican. In fact, while Obama beat McCain by a comfortable margin (53% to 46%), Obama only ties Mitt Romney in the latest poll (45% to 45%) and he only beats Sarah Palin (48% to 42%). This is hardly a recipe for success.
Americans Remain Deeply Conservative
But opinions about politicians are one thing, how do Americans feel about the issues? The answer is that they are remarkably conservative. Let’s take a closer look at the data.
Below is a chart, in which I’ve listed various issues and plotted how the public (as well as Republicans, Democrats, and the Unaffiliated) line up on those issues. Note that the further to the right each data point rests, the more conservative that group was in its response, and vice versa. Anything above 50% should be considered a conservative response, anything below should be considered liberal.
The results are quite interesting. Take a look and then we’ll talk. . .
(Click to Enlarge)
** All data from Rasmussen and/or Gallop
** Questions rephrased for brevity and clarity
Consider this. . .
• The public as a whole only dips below the 50% demarcation line once. This indicates a generally conservative public.
• Unaffiliated voters only drop below the 50% demarcation line once. Moreover, they respond more often above 60% than they do below 60%, thus indicating a very conservative group.
• Republicans consistently responded between 65% and 90%, again indicating a very conservative group.
• Democrats are the outliers. They fall significantly lower than any other group on each data point, although they often respond above the 50% demarcation line as well.
So what does this tell us? It tells us that America remains a conservative country. It tells us that the electoral failures of the last two elections were not the result of a shift to the left by the public, but by a failure of the Republican party to connect with voters.
It also tells us that shifting to the left is the wrong idea. Indeed, between 60% and 70% of non-Democrats favor the conservative view on virtually every issue. Thus, there is little to be gained and much to be lost by a shift to the left.
The first chart further tells us that the areas in which the Republicans must improve their connection with the electorate are (1) health care, (2) education, and (3) government ethics. (Might we suggest CommentaramaCare? We will also discuss education reform and ethics reforms in the future.)
Finally, this tells us that the Democratic agenda will remain deeply unpopular, as is being borne out now in Obama’s poll numbers and in those of the Democratic Congress.