Gallup: “Conservatives” Are Single-Largest Ideological Group

I realize this news hit a few days ago and many of you have heard about it already, but I've been busy trading (among other things) this week so I'm just getting to it now... A new Gallup poll reinforces what I've said frequently over the last 6 months: The country remains center-right and the large vote for Democrats in 2008 is being misinterpreted by the left as broad support for leftist policies rather than what it really was: frustration with an inept, corrupt, and big-spending Republican Party. Specifically, the poll says that "Thus far in 2009, 40% of Americans interviewed in national Gallup Poll surveys describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal." To be clear, this poll is not saying that the 40% of the self-declared respondents are likely to vote Republican:
While a solid majority of Republicans are on the same page -- 73% call themselves conservative -- Democrats are more of a mixture. The major division among Democrats is between self-defined moderates (40%) and liberals (38%). However, an additional 22% of Democrats consider themselves conservative, much higher than the 3% of Republicans identifying as liberal.
This does show some slightly higher likelihood for Republicans to peel away Democratic votes under "normal" circumstances (whatever those are these days) than vice-versa. But perhaps most importantly in terms of electoral implication is the political philosophy of independent voters:
(C)lose to half of political independents -- 45% -- describe their political views as "moderate." Among the rest, the balance of views is tilted more heavily to the right than to the left: 34% are conservative, while 20% are liberal.
What this means to me is that all else being equal, conservative candidates, as distinguished from simply Republican candidates, should stand a decent chance at the ballot box. Again, "all else being equal" rarely happens. In 1994, it was very difficult for any Democrat and in 2008 it was very difficult for any Republican. But most years have less of a "tidal wave" of public sentiment for or against a party, so to the extent that the GOP can return to being a party of ideas, Gallup's results imply a brighter future than they've seen recently -- not that that's very difficult. The poll results also imply that to the extent Americans will be willing to communicate with their Representatives and Senators, there will be plenty of pressure on moderate and "Blue Dog" Democrats during the coming debates on health care and "cap and trade", and despite a very large nominal Democratic majority, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid may not have an easy time passing the full-fledged government takeovers of major industries that they hope for. This will become even more true as people take a deeper look at what's happening with Government Motors. Gallup's graphic example of political view by party registration also has a lesson: Republicans have been guaranteeing their losses by not being conservative. GOP voters are more motivated by ideas and ideology than Democrats are. Trying to be "Democrat-lite" or, as I've said before, just like the Democrats except on gay marriage and abortion, is a sure loser for Republicans -- thankfully. As Robert Novak said, "God put the Republican Party on Earth to cut taxes. If they don't do that, they have no useful function." There are a few Republicans who still realize that (Pence, Flake, Hensarling, DeMint, Coburn, among others.) If the rest of the GOP leadership cares to regain power (and what else do most politicians care about?), they'd do will to follow the lead of the true conservatives, particularly the fiscal conservatives among them.
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