For years we've heard Republicans claim this is a center-right nation, that outside big-city dens of liberalism the United States is conservative, and that Democrats didn't represent the mainstream. This is how they justify extreme policies by claiming they're just a little more conservative than the country.
It turns out, as with almost everything else from Republicans, to be a lie. More below:
A number of surveys show many Americans hold more progressive opinions than their identification. In other words, while people may call themselves conservative, their values are more liberal than their labels. From:
In three experiments described in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers found “a systematic bias among young adults to perceive themselves as somewhat more conservative than they actually are.”From other work:
These findings line up nicely with previous political science research, including a working paper we wrote about in 2011. It found that although about 40 percent of Americans identify themselves as conservatives (with 35 percent calling themselves moderates and 21 percent liberals, according to a 2012 Gallup survey), only about one-quarter of them are truly conservative on the issues.That's the good news. Unfortunately they also found people tend to vote in accordance with their identification, which may explain why Republicans get elected despite holding positions many, perhaps most, citizens loathe, simply by repeating "I'm a conservative!".
It's not the end of the world, however. The above also points to a way out of this mess, if candidates ask citizens to consider who truly represents their beliefs, as opposed to a sporting a convenient label. What do you think?