Attitude Surveys Conflict; 1 Sees Gain in Progressive Ideas, Another Cites a Growing Middle
Byline: S.A. Miller, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The 2008 election is in the history books, but the fight over the true sentiments of the American voter remains as lively as ever, with two new surveys offering conflicting views on whether the U.S. body politic leans a bit to the left or a bit to the right.
A new study by groups allied to the Democratic Party is pushing back at what they see as the conventional wisdom that the United States remains - despite recent voting results - a center-right nation.
The study's authors, the liberal Campaign for America's Future and Media Matters for America, say new polling and demographic data show that the country has shifted to the left as progressive views gain popularity and swelling ranks of young voters, minorities and unmarried women tilt the country toward a liberal orientation.
That, in a sense, should be apparent given the election of Barack Obama running on a very bold progressive agenda and defeating an opponent who accused him of being a redistributionist and the most liberal person in the U.S. Senate, said Robert L. Borosage, co-director of Campaign for America's Future, in a conference call last week announcing the findings.
However, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press came to a different conclusion. It noted that while the ranks of independent voters have swelled in recent years, many of the new independents defected from the Republican Party and remain conservative in their outlook.
The growing political middle, according to the Pew Research Center, is not realigning the country's political orientation but rather widening the ideological chasm between the two major parties.
The political values and core attitudes that the Pew Research Center has monitored since 1987 show little overall ideological movement, says the report, which was released May 21.
Leading conservative figures insist the liberal shift is temporary.
America is fundamentally a center-right nation, said Mitt Romney, a contender for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, in an interview on Fox News over the weekend. And if we hold true to our principles and do a better job communicating those principles and holding true to them, acting as we speak, I think the American people will put us back in a position of leadership.
Challenging that idea is the new liberal study, which claims conservative politicians and the mainstream media consistently misread the mood of the electorate.
The study, titled America: A Center-Left Nation, highlights surveys that show a majority of Americans favor bigger government, support expanded gay rights and think the rich and corporations pay too little in taxes while average taxpayers pay a fair amount.
Mr. Borosage said the most telling sign of what he described as a sea change in America's political leanings is that most voters are increasingly supportive of government playing a role in our lives.
The report argues that mainstream media outlets are out of touch with the increasingly liberal ideas of the majority of Americans, said Eric Burns, president of Media Matters for America. The organization is financed in part by billionaire financier George Soros, a major funder of liberal causes and organizations, to debunk conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.
"The orientation of the media's reporting, the framing of the issues, are ... normally about 10
degrees to the right of really where the American people stand," Mr Burns said on the conference call.
But the Pew survey, while noting increasingly broad support for the liberal social agenda, including gay rights, found that the public remains conflicted about the role of government. …