Is America still a center-right country? AEI Political Report, December 2012

Is America still a center-right country? The data point to America as solidly centrist. This issue of Political Report examines self-reported ideological identification of adults and voters over time, views on social issues, attitudes on moral issues, and opinions on the role of government. It also explore whether the Republican brand is damaged and presents some closing data points on the 2012 election. Here are some highlights: 

• The number of liberals in the electorate reached an all-time high in 2012 (25 percent), and the number of conservatives came very close to the all-time high point (36 percent in 1984 and 35 percent in 2012). Yet, Moderates still make up the largest segment of the vote. 

• On economic issues, 46 percent of Americans identify as conservative, while 20 percent say they are liberal. On social issues, 38 percent say they are conservative while 28 percent say they are liberal. 

• In recent surveys on issues such as gay marriage, Americans have moved in a more liberal direction on the policy questions, even as they say that for them personally, the behavior is morally wrong. Half believe that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized as valid, while 52 percent believe sex between two adults of the same gender is morally wrong. 

• Most Americans have long embraced social welfare programs for the poor as an important government responsibility. In a fall 2012 Public Religion Research Institute poll, 63 percent agreed that government policies aimed at helping the poor serve as a critical safety net. 

• Republicans have lost the popular vote for president in five of the past six elections. Current poll responses show a GOP deficit as well. In October, 44 percent said they had negative feelings about the Republican Party, and 39 percent said they had positive ones.

• Satisfaction with the candidates in 2012 was high, and voters felt they learned enough during the campaign to make an informed choice. Two-thirds said the debates were helpful.

 

Is America Still a Center-Right Country? AEI Political Report, December 2012

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About the Author

 

Karlyn
Bowman
  • Karlyn Bowman compiles and analyzes American public opinion using available polling data on a variety of subjects, including the economy, taxes, the state of workers in America, environment and global warming, attitudes about homosexuality and gay marriage, NAFTA and free trade, the war in Iraq, and women's attitudes. In addition, Ms. Bowman has studied and spoken about the evolution of American politics because of key demographic and geographic changes. She has often lectured on the role of think tanks in the United States and writes a weekly column for Forbes.com.
  • Phone: 2028625910
    Email: kbowman@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Andrew Rugg
    Phone: 2028625917
    Email: andrew.rugg@aei.org

 

Andrew
Rugg

 

Jennifer K.
Marsico
  • Jennifer K. Marsico is a senior research associate at AEI, working in the Political Corner. Her research focuses on elections and election reform, as well as government continuity issues. She is a visiting fellow at the Independent Women's Forum. She is also a contributor to the AEIdeas blog, and has also written for many outside print and online publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and Roll Call. Ms. Marsico serves as assistant director of the AEI-Brookings Continuity of Government Commission, and has contributed to recent studies on Supreme Court continuity, voter registration modernization, and civic participation in the digital age.

  • Phone: 202.862.5899
    Email: jennifer.marsico@aei.org

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