By The Numbers — Polls 10-30-2010

October 30th, 2010 by Lee Eldridge

As most of you know by now, I enjoy watching the polls. I’m a frequent visitor to sites such as Rasmussen Reports, Gallup and Real Clear Politics. There are a couple polls I want to share with you today.

PollsCenter Right?
Republicans have claimed for years that we’re a “center-right” country. They do so because that’s what the numbers show. For the last couple of decades, polls typically show that around 40% of people describe their political views as conservative, 40% as moderate, and 20% as liberal. (See this historical summary at Gallup.) Personally, I suspect these polls are misleading. It’s been my experience that conservatives are proud to be conservatives, and are willing to describe themselves as such. I’m not sure that the same holds true for some liberals. Over the years I’ve met people who I would describe as liberals, yet they describe themselves as moderates. And I think there are some numbers that would backup this conclusion.

Here are two recent polls on Rasmussen Reports that I believe demonstrate this to be true. In my opinion, we have a leftist President, and a leftist Congress, passing leftist legislation. The size of our federal government has grown dramatically over the last four years while the left has controlled Congress. But according to Rasmussen, 32% of likely U.S. voters say we’re headed in the right direction (read more here), and 25% of likely voters prefer more services and higher taxes from our government (read more here). These numbers suggest to me that while 20% of the people describe themselves as liberals, certainly more than 20% of them seem to share a liberal view of the role of our government.

I believe that it’s more likely that 25-30% of people hold liberal views. So while the Republicans are correct that we’re a center-right country, I believe that the percentage of liberals is understated in these polls.

Smaller Government
There are a number of polls out there that indicate the mood of America right now. To me the most telling is that 65% of likely voters say they prefer a government with fewer services and lower taxes rather than one with more services and higher taxes. And according to Rasmussen, 64% of voters say that the country is headed down the wrong track. When you dive into this a little deeper, Rasmussen has an interesting subset of these numbers. They divide out the “Political Class” from “Mainstream Voters”. According to Rasmussen: “Seventy-six percent (76%) of the Political Class believe the United States is generally heading in the right direction, while 81% of Mainstream voters think┬áthe country is going down the wrong track.” It is incredible to me that the Political Class is so out of touch with Mainstream voters.

Charlie CristFlorida’s Senate Race
Out of all the House and Senate races, the poll that caught my eye this morning was the poll for Florida’s senatorial race. For those who have not followed this race, it’s been pretty entertaining. In the Republican primary, the Tea Party-backed Marco Rubio defeated governor Charlie Crist. Crist decided to run as an independent, so there’s a three way race between Rubio (R), Crist (I) and Kendrick Meek (D). Earlier this week the polls showed Rubio at 43%, Crist at 32%, and Meek at 20%.

But then the Democratic Party got involved. The Democrats sent Bill Clinton to Florida to convince Meek to drop out of the race, and throw his support behind Crist. Crist has said that he’s willing to caucus with the Democrats. He’s also said that he’s had conversations with Clinton’s people, as well as the White House, and that at one point Meek had agreed to drop out of the race. It appears that this strategy has doubly backfired on the Democrats. Not only did Meek change his mind and decide to remain in the race, it appears that Rubio has picked up seven points in the polls this week. The newest poll from Rasmussen has Rubio at 50%, Crist at 30%, and Meek at 16%. I think that the voters are tired of politics-as-usual.

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3 Responses to “By The Numbers — Polls 10-30-2010”

  1. Big Dog Says:

    Why are you conservatives always trying to label everyone as liberals. It’s pathetic.

  2. Lee Eldridge Says:

    Well Big Dog, since you asked so nicely, I’ll try to answer your question.

    My point wasn’t about labeling anyone as a liberal. Approximately 20% of people identify themselves as liberals. I’ve always suspected that number to be a little low.

    If you believe that number, and that people are identifying themselves accurately, then liberal views are clearly a minority — only 1 in 5 people hold these views.

    I suspect there’s a small group of people who believe their views are moderate, but are not. When you hang out with a group of like-minded people, read the NY Times, watch MSNBC and listen to NPR, I think certain people believe that their views ARE mainstream. That their views are more common than they are. And it leads them to believe that they’re more moderate than they are.

    It’s difficult for me to believe that a moderate would respond that our government needs to offer more services and raise our taxes, yet 25% of people responded this way, while only 20% identify themselves as liberals. It’s hard for me to believe that many moderates believe our country is headed in the right direction, yet 32% of voters say we’re headed in the right direction. Get my point? More than 20% of people are aligning with a liberal agenda, yet they don’t identify themselves as liberals.

    Though I think your question is really separate than this. I don’t label myself as a conservative — I’m a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. I certainly don’t speak for conservatives. I only speak for myself.

    I would agree that conservatives DO label people / politicians / media / organizations as liberal. Why? Many of them are, yet they deny it. How often do you see people like Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi stand up and say “I’m a liberal and I’m proud of it!”? Not very often. Why? Because the majority of Americans do not hold these same views. These politicians do their best to convince the public that they have a mainstream agenda to get elected.

  3. Lee Eldridge Says:

    And a quick followup to the Meek story. Clinton and his staffers have changed their story on their involvement in this mess. A good explanation of the story here from Yahoo News.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20101029/el_yblog_upshot/bill-clinton-urged-meek-to-quit-the-florida-senate-race