The most recent Ricochet Podcast made mention of something I've heard several times over the years that, while maintaining verisimilitude (...always wanted to use that word...), is probably misleading or, perhaps, simply incorrect.
It's been a couple days since I listened, so I don't remember who mentioned it, but it was regarding how the United States of America is, after all, a "center-right nation," and that while elections won by socialists may occur from time to time, eventually the American public reverts to mean and votes in a slightly-conservative president and/or bunch of people to lead them. The podcast also mentioned what I'm calling (for reasons listed below) the "40/20 fallacy" : that 40% of the American public lists themselves as conservative while only 20% consider themselves liberal. This, naturally, would lead to the remaining 40% listed as either "centrist," or, more often than not, as the "don't know/don't care/ huh?" constituency that, for some reason, are still allowed to vote.
The problem I have, and have had, with this is that I believe this assumption of a center-right plurality is incorrect. I seem to remember Bernard Goldberg mentioning in his book Bias that those in the media who were nothing short of radical leftists would consider themselves middle of the road. I believe this permeates to the population at large; we conservatives know we're conservative, while the liberals think they're moderates.
This is proven to me anecdotally anytime I get into it on Facebook or email with my friends from home in Massachusetts or from college in New Hampshire, most of whom still live in Massachusetts, New Hampshire or Vermont (I live in Packerland, now); if we were to draft out an itemized list of subjects (abortion, illegal immigration, gay marriage, constitutional items, etc), in each and every case they follow the liberal line. However, in each & every case they refuse to believe that they are liberal, using as their basis the reasoning that they're "not as liberal as some I know."
The problem is that they are so insular that they only know liberals; they may not be the most leftist among them, but then the sample size is rather skewed. I keep telling one of my buddies that, for Massachusetts, he may be a moderate, but for the country's population as a whole, not so much. He refuses to hear it.
In any case, returning to my thesis: it's not surprising to me that only 20% of Americans asked label themselves liberal; I'm willing to bet another 10%-15% of what we (and any objective reviewer) would consider liberal list themselves as moderate, bringing the true figures closer to 40% conservative/30-35% liberal. This doesn't quite mean ours is a "center-right" nation.
I believe the recent elections bear this out: per the numbers I was able to find on the past few presidential elections, the popular vote has yielded these figures (raw data found here; I cannot stipulate their accuracy):
|Popular Vote||Percentage of|
|2004||George W Bush||62,028,285.00||51.24%|
|2000||George W Bush||50,456,002.00||48.36%|
|H Ross Perot||8,085,402.00||8.54%|
|George H W Bush||39,104,545.00||37.69%|
|H Ross Perot||19,742,267.00||19.03%|
|1988||George H W Bush||48,886,097.00||53.90%|
|Michael S Dukakis||41,809,074.00||46.10%|
Obviously, presidential elections are won based on the votes cast by the Electoral College (cf: 2000), however, a "Center Right" nation? Were that it were so...