Gallup: Conservatives are largest ideological group
Wed June 17, 2009 11:07 am

The poll released June 15, finds that conservatives constitute 40% of the electorate, moderates 35%, and liberals 21%. I recently wrote about a Pew Research Center poll (See "The age of centrism: Independents are now the plurality," posted on June 10) that identified independents as the largest group in the electorate (36%), with Democrats just behind (35%), and Republicans bringing up the rear (23%). The obvious question to ask is, If conservatives are 40% of the electorate, why are Republicans lagging at 23%? I think the answer is that a lot of moderates/independents lean conservative but they think the Republicans are too extreme on the social issues, and they're still mad at Bush. The Republicans nationally are in the same bind that confronts the Democrats in Texas: They have no public face to their party who can capture the fancy of the voters.

Polls are not the beginning and the end of wisdom and knowledge, but this one certainly raises the question of how long the Democrats can thrive when their core ideological support is one voter in five. The Republicans are giving them plenty of help by hewing to ideological purity, but in due course those moderate voters are going to have to decide whether they went for Obama and the Democrats because they agreed with the their policies (and, if so, whether they still do) or because they were mad at the Republicans.

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