When It Comes To President Obama, Many Conservatives Are Living Inside A Bubble

The 2012 campaign is revealing once again that many conservatives have a view of President Obama not shared by the public at large.

For months now, I have been noticing that conservative pundits observing the Presidential election seem to be living in some kind of alternate universe that causes them to believe that, despite all of the available evidence, President Obama is clearly and obviously doomed in November. You can see it in blog posts on an almost daily basis for the past several months, in the columns and cable television appearances by certain conservative pundits, and the daily blathering of  the Rush Limbaugh’s and Sean Hannity’s of the world. To some extent, of course, you can dismiss much of this as home team chauvinism. After all, nobody who is dedicated to a cause wants to admit that it might be doomed, and even the people who supported candidates like Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis held on to the bitter end even though the outcome was inevitable. At the same time, though, some of the election commentary on the right has taken on a slightly different tone as pundits look around and realize that Barack Obama might just pull off a win on November 6th after all, and you can see it most clearly in the advice that some of them are purporting to give to the Romney campaign.

Take, for example, Stanley Kurtz in National Review:

As the Romney campaign sees it, the tiny sliver of remaining undecided voters consists of mildly disillusioned former Obama supporters, or at least voters who personally like Obama. Coaxing these folks to “break up” with their erstwhile beau means not making them feel like they were fools to buy into Obama’s vision to begin with. That cuts against any effort to unmask the president’s overweening leftist ambitions. Let’s just say that the president’s a nice guy who’s in over his head instead.

(…)

I can’t say for certain that Romney’s strategy is wrong. But I do think it’s far riskier than we realize. Treating Obama as a nice guy in over his head, rather than a smart leftist who knows exactly what he’s doing, leaves the Democrats’ bogus narrative about government unanswered. America is changing, and Republicans are naive to rely on the public to simply recognize the problems in the Democrats’ claims without significant help from our nominee.

Republicans won big in 2010 by defining Obama as an overweening ideologue. Yet that was the Tea Party’s doing, not the Republican establishment. In those days, Romney even jumped on the tea-party bandwagon with some surprisingly cutting observations about Obama’s leftism. Obama may not have pivoted after the 2010 election, but Republicans did. They toned down their attacks on the president’s ideology, and to some extent helped to build up the very wall of “likeability” they now fear to scale, even as the president rejected the Clintonian way and stayed to the left. Were Republicans smart to hold their fire? Romney did try out the argument that Obama is moving us toward European-style social democracy during the primaries, but he’s dropped that now in favor of the kinder and gentler “break up” approach.

As a preliminary matter, it appears that I need to return to a point that I’ve touched on several times here at OTB in the past two years, that point being the extent to which many on the right seem to be willfully misinterpreting the meaning of what happened in the 2010 Midterm Elections. It’s true that a large part of what motivated the Tea Party movement that sparked in the wake of the health care debate was a group of people standing up against what they believed to be a government that was being too big and too intrusive. One can complain, as I have on numerous occasions, that it would have been nice if this movement had existed when George W. Bush was President, but it did exist. However, it’s rather clear that the primary motivation for the wave that kicked so many Democrats out of Congress was the state of the economy, one need only look to the exit polls to see the truth of that statement. If the economy had been healthy in November 2010, the President’s party would have still likely lost seats in Congress since that is the historical norm, but it’s unlikely that we would have seen the kind of wave election that we ended up with. Kurtz, like many Republicans, is viewing the 2010 election results through an ideological lens and completely missing what they were really all about.

Kurtz is typical of many on the right who have begun to call into question the strategy that the Romney campaign is pursuing in this election, which basically boils down to the idea that winning the election depends on convincing the Independent Voters who went for Obama four years ago, in many cases because they believed the rhetoric that proclaimed him to be some kind of transformational leader, that it’s okay to change minds four years later. That’s why you typically see Romney referring to the President as a decent person who just wasn’t up to the job. It’s also why two of the most effective ads of this election cycle so far has been a SuperPac ad featuring former Obama voters expressing their disappointment with the President and an RNC ad that basically sends the message that it’s okay to vote for someone else this time around.

Kurtz and those who agree with him seem to think that the way to win against the President is to reject this strategy and go for a full-on venomous attack against the President. The problem that conservatives who advocate this strategy fail to recognize, though, is that this kind of full-on Limbaugh-esque strategy would not have any hope at all of appealing to the voters who are actually going to decide this election. Indeed, there’s plenty of evidence that would suggest that the Republicans would be committing electoral suicide if they were to go down this road. The rhetoric of Limbaugh and Hannity may be popular among the hard-core right, but there’s substantial evidence that it would be a substantial turnoff to independent voters. Going down the road that Kurtz is suggesting would pretty much guarantee that Mitt Romney would lose every swing state, and that substantial damage would likely be done to Republicans in down-ticket races. Rather than being a strategy for victory, Kurtz’s advice would lead the GOP to a humiliating loss.

Kurtz isn’t the only one giving this kind of unsolicited advice to the Romney campaign, and he’s hardly a minority in the conservative world in his apparent view that President Obama is some kind of Marxist plant in the White House who, immediately upon his re-election, would impose upon American some kind of socialist dictatorship. Indeed, the idea that Obama is not just wrong but evil became rather prevalent in hardcore conservative circles shortly after he took office and it’s hardly something that has let up as time has passed. Indeed, as we speak, conservatives are flocking to 2016 a “documentary” by Dinesh D’Souza who claimed back in 2010 that President Obama possessed a “Kenyan anti-colonialist worldview,” a meme that Newt Gingrich eagerly picked up on. The film is apparently immensely popular in conservative circles, largely because it reinforces all of the insane conspiracy theories they already believe about the President, but I’d be surprised if very many people who weren’t already anti-Obama even bother to go see the thing.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in politics is to assume that the rest of the country thinks the same way you do. Conservatives like Kurtz, D’Souza, and the others have fallen into this trap and in the process continue to dig themselves a bigger and bigger hole. If the Republican Party were to actually adopt their beliefs, and so far it has not regardless of what you might think, then it would end up dooming itself for several election cycles to come. It is possible to campaign aggressively against the President, or any other candidate, without demonizing them. In fact, in a world where you can’t win national elections without appealing to the broad swath of independent voters, that is really the only rational way to campaign. Following the advice of people like Kurtz is a recipe for disaster.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Jon Stewart distilled the empty chair thing as the key, and I think he’s right. We’ve all noticed it.

    The right runs against an “invisible Obama” that only they can see. I think what you describe as “bubble thinking” is the same idea, that “of course, everyone wants to defeat invisible Obama.”

  2. Jr says:

    For once, Romney’s campaign took the right approach by playing on how Obama has been a disappointment, I personally don’t agree with it…….but you can make a case for that. Where Romney went wrong was he has never gave a reason why the country should not only fire Obama…..but hire him.

    That is the problem that dimwits like Kurtz don’t seem to understand.

  3. MM says:

    It’s what happens when you only listen to people who validate your world view. Scratch that, actually it’s what happens when you listen to people who make your worldview sound overly moderate.

    Obama can’t be making mistakes, he has to be wrong.

    Obama can’t be wrong he has to be stupid.

    Obama can’t be stupid he has to be evil.

    Etcetera.

    Then once he’s evil, the frustration comes from the fact that nobody is talking about how CLEARLY evil he is. Not to mention the fact that to defeat evil, any tactic is permissible.

  4. legion says:

    They’re not living in a bubble – they’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. For some time now, but most noticeably since the Bush administration, the GOP has been surrounded almost entirely by yes-men. Not just PR flack who “spin” the truth, but utter toadies whose only job description is to say whatever they’re paid to say, regardless of its relationship to reality. The Romney campaign, and its preference for transparent lies over even helpful truths is just the next logical step.

    Competence doesn’t matter – telling the boss he’s a genius is all that’s necessary.

  5. MM says:

    Another thought: The most positive buzz the Romney campaign has had from the right (aside from Eastwood) was when the Romney bus was driving around in circles honking the horn outside Obama events.

    Kurtz thinks that the persuadable voter wants to see more of this attitude not less. Why? Because Republican partisans want to see more of this, not less.

  6. Blue Shark says:

    This is what happens when you buy your own media empire…

    …and then the lies are broadcast back to you 24/7.

  7. anjin-san says:

    Perception is very different outside of the Foxverse:

    Romney Got a Negative Bounce
    The Princeton Election Consortium finds Mitt Romney actually got a negative bounce coming out of his convention.

    “Indeed, it appears that the race shifted towards President Obama by 6-15 EV, or about 1.0% of Popular Vote Meta-Margin. From an analytical perspective, a negative bounce is quite remarkable because all the talk in recent weeks has been of bounces being smaller or zero, but always in the hosting party’s favor. It is all the more remarkable because of the relatively small number of state polls over the last week, so that the Meta-analysis’s inputs have not fully turned over… So the negative bounce may be larger than what is shown in the graph. Such an event would have been missed in past years (and even this year) because national polls don’t have the best resolution.”

    Negative Bounce

  8. Joe says:

    If they don’t believe it, they merely have to wait until November to find the truth. Of course, they’ll just make something else up to explain Obama’s victory away, but it’ll have to be without blaming it on ACORN or voter fraud, since all of those laws will be in place.

  9. Joe says:

    @MM: Not that any of that gains any more votes. It’s not like you can get the same people to vote more often.

  10. Joe says:

    @anjin-san: That’s only happened twice before: George McGovern and John Kerry. Oops.

  11. Ron Beasley says:

    It’s the same bubble the neo-cons are in. They actually think Romney has a foreign policy advantage because he listens to the likes of John Bolton.

  12. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I’ve never heard of Kurtz nor D’Souza, but that aside the raw meat approach that’s so prevalent on the far right side of the chattering classes is nothing new. That sort of thing goes all the way back to the John Birch Society. Bad demographics + cocooned lifestyles = political dissonance.

    In any case, as inept as Team Romney is there’s no chance they’ll make the mistake of trying to turn this contest into a ideological pissing match. They’re not that dumb. Besides, as anyone with a functioning cerebrum and a bare modicum of political acumen fully is aware: It’s the stupid, economy!

  13. stonetools says:

    Remember this famous New yorker cover?

    LINK

    For many conservatives, that wasn’t satire: it is an accurate portrayal of who the Obamas REALLY are. Kurz, and his readers actually believes that Barack is a Kenyan anti-colonial Muslim radical and Michelle is a whitey-hating revolutionary harridan, and that they burn American flags for fun . What they are in public is just a carefully contrived act that fools all but the enlightened.

    when you fervently believe this,you are likely to be impatient with those so-called conservatives who don’t believe ” the truth”. Once “the truth” is proclaimed, the benighted masses will naturally see the light and turn on the pretenders in the White House. So the “true conservatives” believe.

  14. Dave says:

    But have those break up with Obama ads been persuasive? I find them to be patronizing much like both parties attitudes toward courting the female votes this year. Oh thank you woman appearing in a Romney ad. Had you not told me the economy was shitty and that I don’t have to vote the same way I did four years ago, I never would’ve realized. Give me a break, it is just another attempt at appealing to the lowest common denominator.

  15. Jay_Dubbs says:

    This is the problem the GOP has always faced against Obama. The base believes the Obama is evil meme. (Actually the message sometimes get crossed up as he is just an affirmative action hire, but is always that he is in someway anti-American.) This attitude has existed despite the high personal numbers that Obama has held throughout his Presidency.

    That explains why the Romney campaign has shifted the message to try and focus on disappointment instead of outrage. But by taking that focus, necessary (I think) to get that 3% of the vote needed to push him over the line, he risks raising the fury of the true believers.

    This may be a taste of what to comes after Obama’s (likely, but still not certain) re-election. The rational wing of the GOP will recognize that changing demographics and the shrinking GOP base is not enough to win the Presidency, although may allow them to keep control of Congress (ala the Democrats in the 1980s). The true believer wing (egged on by the profit seekers like Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox News, etc.) will continue to push the “we’re right, they’re wrong” line and say that if only a true conservative had run, then the country would have fallen inline with the GOP’s message.

    I would expect a fleeing of moderate Republicans, like the exodus of Southern Democrats in the 80’s & 90’s, but that number is so few that it would be hard to notice. The real question is whether the GOP money people will continue to fund a party that is in trouble demographically and which accepts only they’re own reality and rejects anything that conflicts with that. Should be fun to watch.

  16. Jay_Dubbs says:

    @Dave: They may be effective in making voters feel ok about not voting for Obama, but they don’t make the case for Romney. The Chicago guys made this a choice, not the referendum that the Boston guys were hoping for.

  17. al-Ameda says:

    We live in a cafeteria world these days, people select the reality they want to believe in. For the time being we’ve come to believe that there is no objective reality. The truth (or what one wants to believe is the truth) depends on the source of information.

    Conservatives actually believe the narrative that is provided by their opinion network. And how do we know that? Well, polls show that over 50% of Republicans believe the Birther narrative, and a similar majority believes that Obama is a Muslim. It is not a fringe phenomenon, it is the core of the Republican Party.

  18. Ben says:

    Just like the bubble Obama fan boys live in. As though a one term senator and political organizer (whatever that’s supposed to mean) is what it takes to be a President. At least he can give a speech (if he has a teleprompter). But aside from that, he sure hasn’t done much. Unemployment over 8% for his entire 4 year presidential career. It’s really sad to think the cool aid drinking masses of dems are too busy booing god and israel to read the writing on the wall. Good old Barry Soetoro isn’t going to get re-elected. Sorry to burst your Bubble people.

  19. Jr says:

    @Ben:

    “But aside from that, he sure hasn’t done much.”

    Really?

    Only LBJ has gotten more stuff passed through congress and this is not even adding the fact that Obama has dealt with a party, whom’s main purpose is to see him failed.

    On the 8% unemployment, You do realize we were losing close to 800,000 when Obama took office in Jan 2009 and we peaked at 10% unemployment in 2010 and not it is 8.1% It is going to take more then four years to get out of this hole……..but we are clearly on the right track.

  20. al-Ameda says:

    @Ben:

    Barry Soetoro

    A very bubblelicious comment
    By the way, Hawaii is in the United States.

  21. bk says:

    @Ben:

    At least he can give a speech (if he has a teleprompter)

    Because no other President EVER, in the history of the universe, has EVER given a speech without a teleprompter or notes. EVER. Don’t you ever get tired of repeating crap like that? Don’t you realize how utterly moronic that (and stuff like your “Barry Soetero” reference) makes you appear?

  22. Jr says:

    Ben basically proving what Doug is talking about.

    Some conservatives live in an alternate reality where the extreme lefty Barry Soetero is President and not Barack Obama.

  23. bandit says:

    @Jr: Try not to be an idiot. Try hard. The entire reduction in hte unemployment rate is from people leaving the workforce. If you think that’s the right track we’re even more screwed that I thought.

  24. Jr says:

    @bandit: @bandit: The Labor force downsizing is due to people retiring and young people going to college, which makes sense giving how baby boomers are reaching retirement age.

    We have had 29 months of job growth…….so yeah we are clearly on the right track. The wrong track would be job losses which we haven’t had in 3 years.

  25. Woody says:

    The League of Ordinary Gentlemen recently did a series of posts while watching the MSNBC/CNN/Fox evening programs (no link, haven’t figured out the blasted ipad yet). The writer noted that Fox had worked itself into a corner – it’s tough to continue outrage as a network must continually push out further to maintain its hold on the audience (I happen to believe Murdoch lurves dollars even more than ideology – and he owns the 27%). Fox viewers cannot imagine the President as anything but alien, as this has been the primary subtext of every Fox News broadcast since 2007. It is now Scripture for the Fox Right.

  26. michael reynolds says:

    I keep waiting for Jan to come along and tell us how it’s all a liberal lie that Mr. Obama has gotten a bounce while Mr. Romney has done a swan dive.

    Is it because Fox and Limbaugh don’t have much on weekends? Is that why the usual righties can’t explain away what is now several polls, including right-wing Rasmussen and GOP-leaning Gallup?

    Are we going to have to wait until Monday?

  27. john personna says:

    @bandit: why is U6 unemployment down then?

  28. @Jay_Dubbs: Re: The GOP Big Money donors — given Citizen United, a few reality-ambivilent right wing billionaires are all that it takes to fund the crazy-faction of the Republican Party — Shelden Adelson is probably the most probable billionaire who would be more than willing to drop $100 million a cycle on Teabaggers because he ideologically believes in them.

  29. An Interested Party says:

    …and political organizer (whatever that’s supposed to mean)

    Here, let me help you

    At least he can give a speech (if he has a teleprompter).

    Let me help you again

    But aside from that, he sure hasn’t done much. Unemployment over 8% for his entire 4 year presidential career. It’s really sad to think the cool aid drinking masses of dems are too busy booing god and israel to read the writing on the wall. Good old Barry Soetoro isn’t going to get re-elected. Sorry to burst your Bubble people.

    Oh, I see nothing can help you…are you one of those who wants to see Barry’s real birth certificate? What will you think the writing on the wall will be when Soetoro wins reelection? Oh well, you can blame it on Zombieland like another of the loons around here..

  30. Hans Gruber says:

    Ahh, the power of denial

  31. Ben says:

    No, other presidents have given speeches with teleprompters, of course. But how many had to appologize when giving one in austria for not speaking austrian? HAHA

    And yeah, it’ll take more than 4 years to fix the economy, I wonder if that’s truly the case he didn’t say that in 2008. According to him wasn’t it a one term deal if he couldn’t fix it? Now because he COULDN’T fix it, it’s all the sudden become a longer road…. kind of getting a theme going here aren’t we?

    I never said Barry Soetoro wasn’t born in the US.

    And what’s really sad about you obama bubble babys… he spent what was it? Over 100 million more than Romney on all those attack ads that did next to nothing to raise his numbers. While Romney hardly put anything out and was still right there. What’s gonna happen when Romney who now is taking the money lead starts hitting back, and he has o so much ammunition to use against “The most transparent president” hahaha, what a joke.

    How many liberals will do us a favor and move to Canada this time? Oh I can’t wait, the country will get just a little better with each and every one that crosses the border!. The democratic party is good for just one thing, once and a while people get to thinking that the Republicans are doing a bad job, then they make the mistake of electing one of those left wing nuts, like Carter, or Obama, and then realize just how poor the democratic leaders actually do… and get us our Republicans back in office.

    Oh, and those of you who are misguided enough to think that liberals are the majority, when you move out of fantasy land and into reality you’re going to have a very rude awakening. Conservatives tend to be traditional, traditional = tradition, tradition is the norm. If it wasn’t normal or traditional, it would be radical. You are not in the majority if you are radical aka liberal. Accept it.

  32. sybilll says:

    I don’t limit myself to echo chambers. But if you think the left is not just as myopic as some on the right, you are sadly mistaken. They truly think that removing God and Jerusalem from the DNC platform would not have cost them a single vote. That would be just as short-sighted of the right to think that the imaginary War of Women has not worked on some single issue voters.

  33. Citizen Keith says:

    @Jr: They try painting Obama as another Carter without realizing that they have an even bigger problem. Romney isn’t Reagan.

  34. Dazedandconfused says:

    Most of the “Tea Party” I know were largely drawn by the possibility of a third party, something other than Brand X or Brand Y, in 2010. They no longer trust the two major party’s to put anything above their own self-interest.

    Now, it seems to me, they are a bit better informed. A touch wiser. I’m hearing more questions and fewer assertions.

  35. al-Ameda says:

    @sybilll:

    I don’t limit myself to echo chambers. But if you think the left is not just as myopic as some on the right, you are sadly mistaken. They truly think that removing God and Jerusalem from the DNC platform would not have cost them a single vote. That would be just as short-sighted of the right to think that the imaginary War of Women has not worked on some single issue voters.

    Both Sides Do it Alert.
    False equivalence, it’s not nearly on both sides. The Right has demonstrated on so many levels that they’ve created a substantial bubble world when it comes to Obama, nothing on the Left comes nearly as close to that.

  36. Moosebreath says:

    Doug,

    “One of the biggest mistakes you can make in politics is to assume that the rest of the country thinks the same way you do.”

    In light of your vociferous unwillingness to accept that the opinion of the rest of the public that statements made by candidates’ wives matter to the rest of the country in a post not far below this, my irony meter broke. Can I send you the bill for a new one?

  37. bk says:

    @sybilll:

    They truly think that removing God and Jerusalem from the DNC platform would not have cost them a single vote. That would be just as short-sighted of the right to think that the imaginary War of Women has not worked on some single issue voters.

    Yes, because language in a platform IS EXACTLY THE SAME THING as actual federal and state legislation.

  38. jeannebodine says:

    Gee, Doug, I’m sure the GOP appreciates the “concern” of a blogger whose readers are overwhelmingly pro-Obama. No doubt your misgivings rank right up there alongside those of David Frum.

  39. michael reynolds says:

    latest from Nate Silver:

    Mr. Obama had another strong day in the polls on Saturday, making further gains in each of four national tracking polls. The question now is not whether Mr. Obama will get a bounce in the polls, but how substantial it will be.

    Some of the data, in fact, suggests that the conventions may have changed the composition of the race, making Mr. Obama a reasonably clear favorite as we enter the stretch run of the campaign.

    On Saturday, Mr. Obama extended his advantage to three points from two points in the Gallup national tracking poll, and to four points from two in an online survey conducted by Ipsos. He pulled ahead of Mitt Romney by two points in the Rasmussen Reports tracking poll, reversing a one-point deficit in the edition of the poll published on Friday.

    For all those living in the parallel Fox universe, Nate Silver is probably the most respected poll analyst around.

  40. Dave says:

    @michael reynolds: but it’s been proved that in ’08 the Obama campaign was giving their numbers to Silver to see if they were correct so his reputation is a bit tarnished when it comes to neutrality.

  41. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave:

    You are of course free to disbelieve him. But he’s citing four major polls, including Rasmussen, the GOP house poll. If anyone has seriously challenged Silver’s math I haven’t heard it.

  42. SPQR says:

    @al-Ameda: You’ve forgotten that Mataconis’ piece from June illustrated that a quarter of Democrats were confused about Obama’s birthplace as well. And Independents disbelieved in Obama’s US birthplace in large numbers.

  43. superdestroyer says:

    Once again, the Republicans have not found a way to deal with the incompetence and failures of the Bush II Administration. Romney’s team is filled with people who enabled the failures of Bush II. That team failed to deal with the incompetence of too many Republicans and fails to deal with the difference between rank and file Republicans and the cheap labor, big government supporters in the Republicans establishment.

    What many of those writers really want is for any Republicans to find a way to deal with the legacy of the Bush II Administration. Calling President Obama a nice guy who is in over his head is just a way to continue to failures of the Bush II Administration. Why not point to how bad the Bush II Administration was, how incompetent the congressional Republicans were during the Bush II Administration and then point out how much of that incompetent had continued.

  44. I like the people who show up to answer the “bubble” article by saying “no, you don’t understand, we don’t like Obama.” That kind of misses the important step back, to think about whether the Obama you picture is accurate, or if everybody (enough to win an election) really do feel as you do.

  45. Rick Almeida says:

    @Dave:

    I’m interested in seeing this proof.

  46. Scott O says:

    @Rick Almeida: It’s being reported in a book.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeedpolitics/obama-campaign-shared-08-polling-with-silver

    I don’t see how it matters. Silver said in 2008 that he supported Obama. His reputation is based on his accuracy, not his politics.

    One commenter at buzzfeed gives us a good illustration of the right wing bubble:

    Again proof that Silver is a leftist loon. His polls are a joke right now. Obama is toast and we all know it.

  47. Rick Almeida says:

    @Scott O:

    Thank you for the link, I hadn’t heard of that book.

    From what I can read in that article and on the book’s Amazon.com info, I don’t see at all what the issue is. Allegedly, the Obama campaign shared it’s polling with Silver to see if his models worked with their polling data.

  48. KariQ says:

    @SPQR:

    You’ve forgotten that Mataconis’ piece from June illustrated that a quarter of Democrats were confused about Obama’s birthplace as well. And Independents disbelieved in Obama’s US birthplace in large numbers.

    Build in the 28% crazification factor (28% of Americans are crazy and will believe any fool thing) and then that independents are not truly independents but instead partisans who reject the name, and we’re left with the original observation intact.

  49. The premise of this article is flawed. According to every poll, conservatives outnumber liberals by more than 2 to 1. Conservatives are by definition, “the public at large”.

  50. @The atheist libertarian:

    There are problems with a poll that make you “choose one,” liberal or conservative. You are grading yourself against your personal political map.

    In this case, people could be “conservative” compared to previous decades, but so could both candidates. In that case, being “conservative” doesn’t tell you which candidate is closer to your personal beliefs.

    The bubble bs is that Obama is “the most liberal ever” or some such craziness. But non-crazies know that Nixon, etc., were about as liberal as he. See Nixon on the negative income tax or on health care.

  51. Tano says:

    @The atheist libertarian:

    The premise of this article is flawed. According to every poll, conservatives outnumber liberals by more than 2 to 1. Conservatives are by definition, “the public at large”.

    Actually it is your logic which is flawed.
    Conservatives outnumber liberals 2 to 1, but that is in the context of representing 40% and 20% of the population respectively, with the other 40% identifying as “moderate”.

    So, conservatives are a minority of the public at large, as are the other groups. There is no majority ideology. The “public at large” cannot be associated with a particular ideology, but is divided in the ratios described.

  52. @Tano:

    Are you sure that in a 3-way choice conservatives still outnumber liberals? In party registration it’s a pretty even split. link.

  53. Tano says:

    yes John, ideology and party affiliation are two very different things. I have seen the 40-40-20 ideological split quite consistently over the years.

    Here is Gallup’s take on it LINK

  54. Barry says:

    Doug: “It’s true that a large part of what motivated the Tea Party movement that sparked in the wake of the health care debate was a group of people standing up against what they believed to be a government that was being too big and too intrusive. One can complain, as I have on numerous occasions, that it would have been nice if this movement had existed when George W. Bush was President, but it did exist. ”

    ‘too big and too instrusive’ was not a problem when Dubya was the Big Intruderer.

  55. Rick Almeida says:

    @Tano:

    Your points are valid, but I’d offer that partisanship is more important than ideology, since the former tends to be more tightly correlated with behavior.

  56. Barry says:

    @Ben: “Just like the bubble Obama fan boys live in. As though a one term senator and political organizer (whatever that’s supposed to mean) is what it takes to be a President. At least he can give a speech (if he has a teleprompter). But aside from that, he sure hasn’t done much. Unemployment over 8% for his entire 4 year presidential career. It’s really sad to think the cool aid drinking masses of dems are too busy booing god and israel to read the writing on the wall. Good old Barry Soetoro isn’t going to get re-elected. Sorry to burst your Bubble people. ”

    Usually swill.

    “At least he can give a speech (if he has a teleprompter).”

    Yeah, this was the guy who took on 50-odd GOP congresscritters, and verbally whipped them back home.

    In a sense, this is an excellent example of this bubble:

    1) First, it’s classical Rovian projection, covering for Dubya’s problems with his native tounge.
    2) It’s 100% bullsh*t, akin to dissing the other side’s quarterback for wearing cleats.
    3) It’s dumb.

  57. Barry says:

    @Ben: “I never said Barry Soetoro wasn’t born in the US. ”

    You know, somebody who can’t even remember the name of the President of the USA has failed an item on the most common test for dementia.

  58. Barry says:

    @Dazedandconfused: “Most of the “Tea Party” I know were largely drawn by the possibility of a third party, something other than Brand X or Brand Y, in 2010. They no longer trust the two major party’s to put anything above their own self-interest. ”

    Yes, people who suddenly became drawn *after* their party lost in 2008.

  59. Barry says:

    @Dave: “but it’s been proved that in ’08 the Obama campaign was giving their numbers to Silver to see if they were correct so his reputation is a bit tarnished when it comes to neutrality. ”

    Got proof?

  60. Barry says:

    @The atheist libertarian: “According to every poll, conservatives outnumber liberals by more than 2 to 1.”

    And according to polls which ask about policies (without partisan tags or suchlike), the American public is overwhelmingly hard liberal to leftist.

    So?

  61. gVOR08 says:

    Excellent paper on why so many people with liberal views self identify as conservative.
    http://www.unc.edu/~jstimson/Working_Papers_files/Pathways.pdf
    Long story short:
    Liberals are simply liberal, or “constrained liberals”. They hold liberal views on economic and moral issues and call themselves liberal. Amongst people who identify as “conservative”, Ellis and Simson identify:
    • “constrained conservatives” who hold conservative views on economic and moral issues
    • “moral conservatives’ who hold conservative views on moral issues only
    • “conflicted conservatives” who don’t hold conservative views on either
    They feel the path for many “conservatives” is through religion. They belong to denominations that call themselves conservative, so that’s how they identify themselves, not being politically aware enough to recognize that their economic views may not be conservative.

    E&S’s more interesting thought is that liberal political elites know “liberal” is perceived negatively, so they avoid philosophy and talk about policy. Conservative political elites know that their policies are unpopular but “conservative” is popular, so they avoid policy and talk about philosophy. This leaves the unsophisticated and marginally engaged individual hearing from our supposed elites both conservative philosophy he likes and liberal policy he likes, and doesn’t realize they’re coming from opposite camps. Such an individual may well want to protect Social Security and the environment, be OK w/ gays and abortion, and regard himself as a conservative.

  62. emjay says:

    @Jr: He will in the debates.

  63. Roberta says:

    Thank Heaven someone on this blog actually has the ability to think independently. EVERY SINGLE ARGUMENT I have had with liberals, the most recent being an aquaintance who is a feature writer for our newspaper, ends with personal attacks on me and my beliefs because they simply can’t stand up to a challenge. She used nothing but the liberal pap fed to her by the MSM as rebuttals to my statements. She repeatedly told me she didn’t believe my facts and when I told her to Google my info on her smartphone and she saw I was correct, she stomped off and I haven’t heard from her again. I would say this is an isolated incident, but this has happened to me SO many times. I am afraid the brainwashing of Americans is complete, but I hope I’m wrong.