Friday, January 13, 2012

Doubting the 40% conservative result

I keep hearing from conservative commentators that America is a center-right country and I keep wondering what they are talking about or how otherwise intelligent conservatives could believe such a thing.  So yesterday’s poll results that 40% of the public identifies themselves as conservatives (35% moderate, 21% liberal) leaves me unmoved and apparently I’m not the only one. 

In his Morning Jolt (you can sign up for it at National Review Online) Jim Geraghty writes:

The caveat: How many conservatives know what conservatism is? How many people call themselves conservative but vote, and think, in ways that you or I might not find all that conservative?” 

Yep.  And later in the day I noticed further confirmation of this when it was observed that 20% of those identifying themselves as ‘conservatives’ described themselves as Democrats.  I will submit that if you are a conservative and still find the Democratic Party congenial you are at the very least confused. 

But be that how it may, one simply has to look at actual elections, actual political results to realize that whatever the polls say America is not politically center-right in any meaningful sense. 

What these poll results remind me of is an anecdote my brother use to tell from his marketing days back when Charmin use to run the Mr Whipple “don’t squeeze the Charmin” ads.  In focus groups and other consumer feedback vehicles that hatred for these ads would come through loud and clear.  If you believed what consumers said no one would buy Charmin because they so hated these ads.  Except Charmin at the time had about an 80% market share. 

I’ll believe America is a center-right country when I start seeing center-right policies being supported.  And conservatives who believe these poll results are kidding themselves and making a big mistake.  By taking these results seriously they may think they're winning most of the arguments.  They/we aren't.  What we are seeing is a lack of confidence in liberalism, the end stage of the progressive era, not any actual evidence of conservative support. 

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