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Diary    H4'ed 3/1/11

More Americans Self-Identify as Moderates and Liberals Than as Conservatives

Message Thomas Farrell
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Duluth, MN (OpEdNews) February 26, 2011: The conventional wisdom has it that white people are over-represented in the Republican party, that a more diversified crosscut of people can be found in the Democratic party, but that neither party has enough likely voters to win national elections. So in national elections, each party must try to win over independent voters who are not officially aligned with either party.


Evidently, independent voters come in a number of varieties. For example, there are evidently self-described conservatives who are not Republicans, self-described liberals who are not Democrats, and self-described moderates who are not Republicans or Democrats.


On February 25th, Jeffrey M. Jones posted at the results of a recent Gallup poll regarding self-identified ideology. Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2010, telephone interviews were conducted with a random sample of 182,538 adults of voting age in all 50 states of the U.S. The participants were asked to identify themselves using one of three possible options: (1) conservative, (2) moderate, and (3) liberal.


In the survey results, conservatives constitute a majority of the respondents in only one state, Mississippi (50.6%). In no state do liberals constitute a majority of the respondents, and in no state do moderates constitute a majority of the respondents.


Of these three categories, conservatives emerged as the largest percentage of respondents in all states, but not in the District of Columbia. As we look forward to the elections of 2012, the percentage of self-identified conservatives appears to look promising for the Republican party, provided that the Republican party can attract the votes of conservatives and add a certain number of moderates to the Republican vote tally.


Moderates emerged as a larger percentage of respondents than liberals in all states, but not in the District of Columbia.


Of the three categories, liberals emerged as the smallest percentage of respondents in all states, but not in the District of Columbia.


Thus far, I have simply described the results of the survey as they are arrayed at


Next, I want to combine the categories of moderate and liberal to make a certain point. When we combine the percentage of respondents in these two categories, the two categories combined include a greater percentage of respondents in most states, but not in Mississippi and Idaho.


When we look forward to the elections of 2012, the percentages of moderates and liberals appear to look promising for the Democratic party, provided that the Democratic party can attract the votes of moderates and liberals.


As President Obama famously put it, the Democratic party took a shellacking in the 2010 mid-term elections. Millions of voters who voted for Obama in 2010 simply did not vote in the 2010 mid-term elections. To his credit, President Obama did not blame anyone else for the shellacking in the 2010 elections. I myself see him as the top candidate to receive blame for the 2010 shellacking.


Thus far, many of the Tea-Party-backed Republican candidates elected in the 2010 mid-term elections have been grabbing media attention for initiatives favored by conservatives such as legislation to bust unions and legislation to restrict abortion. It remains to be seen how moderates will react to such conservative initiatives.


But the Gallup survey of self-identification of ideology shows that more Americans self-identify as moderates and liberals than as conservatives. Most Americans do not self-identify as conservatives. As the Tea Party Republicans take highly publicized conservative initiatives, I hope their initiatives spur on moderates and liberals to oppose them.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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