WHAT DO WE THE PEOPLE THINK: Concerning Obama and Romney!

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2012

Part 1—Candidates on the scale: In yesterday’s Washington Post, Charles Lane reported a gloomy statistic from a Gallup survey.

Will Barack Obama be re-elected? We have no idea. But Gallup asked respondents a set of intriguing, if imperfect, questions. Lane described the results:
LANE (1/3/11): If Democrats saw Obama’s 2008 victory as a chance to build a progressive majority, they have so far failed to capitalize. Gallup recently asked Americans to rate their ideology on a liberal-to-conservative scale of 1 to 5. The average result was a right-of-center 3.3.

More alarming for Obama, voters scored him at 2.3, to the left of center—and put Mitt Romney at 3.5. Every other GOP contender was to the right of the mean, except Jon Huntsman, who hit the ideological bull’s-eye. But even Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann came closer to the middle than Obama did.
On average, respondents put themselves somewhat to the right of center. Mitt Romney’s score was rather close; Obama’s was much farther away. To review the Gallup report, click here. This is the list of ratings:
Perceived ideology of candidates, liberal-to-conservative, 1-5 scale:
Bachmann: 4.0
Perry: 3.7
Santorum: 3.7
Gingrich: 3.6
Paul: 3.5
Romney: 3.5
Huntsman 3.3
Americans’ average self-rating: 3.3
Defined ideological center: 3.0
Obama: 2.3
Are self-identified independents the holy grail of elections? Not necessarily. But these are the numbers which emerged from that group:
Perceived ideology of candidates, 1-5 scale (independent respondents only):
Bachmann: 4.0
Perry: 3.7
Santorum: 3.7
Gingrich: 3.6
Paul: 3.5
Romney: 3.5
Huntsman 3.3
Independents’ average self-rating: 3.2
Defined ideological center: 3.0
Obama: 2.5
In this survey, independents perceived Romney to be fairly close to themselves ideologically. Obama was farther away.

Will Obama be re-elected? We have no idea. Steve Benen challenged Lane’s gloomy view on that question; for reassurance, click here. But we were intrigued by those ideology ratings, especially in the wake of the cable coverage of the Iowa caucuses.

All over cable, pundits have lazed around in groups, speculating about how the caucuses might turn out. Starting today, these same people will laze about, speculating about New Hampshire. It’s amazing how many person-hours can be burned up this way.

Last week, though, we saw Ed Schultz do a very intriguing report. Big Ed was on the ground in Iowa—and he spoke with five Republican voters! (These were Republicans, not independents.)

Big Ed’s show can be hard to watch. You never know when Mike Papantonio is going to pop up, to cite one major problem. (“Papantonio” turns out to be Greek for “Sean Hannity.”) But Big Eddie possesses a very good trait. He’s able to speak to regular folk who don’t share his views without going instantly tribal.

Who knows? It may be Schultz can accomplish this task due to his personal history. Before he became a blustery liberal talk host, he was a blustery conservative! (Not that there’s anything wrong with it! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/2/11.) But Schultz did something we rarely see on liberal cable. He spoke to five Republican voters, asking them what they were thinking.

We thought it was fabulous television; we’ll link you to the tape tomorrow, with excerpts of what was said. We thought of those interviews when we saw that Gallup report.

Why do voters rate Obama and Romney that way? We’d love to see Big Eddie ask. In our view, our emerging tribe should probably try to find out.

Tomorrow: Big Ed among the unwashed

6 comments:

  1. Seems to me this could also be called a sanity scale, with 3.3 being "reasonably sane".

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  2. The American public is completely lobotomized. These numbers demonstrate that fact. America is nuts.

    Obama is ideologically similar to Romney. They are two peas in a pod. They are both 4s to 4.5.

    The only reason Obama is to the left of "center" in this poll is because of massive propaganda that both major parties engage in. Both sides pretend that Obama is liberal (he really, really, really, wants the public option and to tax the rich--no kidding--pinkie swear).

    Bob, you know full well the Democrats have ZERO interest in fixing this perception "problem". It isn't a problem to them. Only people like Drum or you claim it's a problem. The Drums are the liberals that are tasked with complaining about the Overton window on the Left so as to keep disillusioned liberals on board (who have no business being on board if they were rational political actors). They won't actually do anything about this 'problem', and instead will continue to support right-wing policies (a 4 out of 5) by voting for and supporting Democrats.

    The Democrats are perfectly fine having the public think they are a 2.5 when they are really a 4.5. In fact, that's the game chump! You're the chump! As are all the other Democrats to the left of 3.3.

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  3. I've created my own scale and dropped a few candidates I don't know enough about. The first number is based on their stated public policies while the second number is based on the policies they will actually pursue in office. I've sorted them by most conservative when it comes to actual policy:

    Obama: 3.4 4.4
    Bachmann: 4.7 4.3
    Santorum: 4.7 4.3
    Romney: 4.3 4.2
    Gingrich: 4.3 4.2
    Paul: 3.3 3.3

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  4. Mike Papantonio cohosts a weekend radio show, Ring of Fire, with Robert Kennedy, Jr. A few years back, Papantonio was berating a GOP guest over something or other on the program. Kennedy finally stopped it, telling Papantonio that listening to him was like listening to Sean Hannity. That analogy is even on the mind of those close to Mr. "Pap Attack" (the name given to Mr. Papantonio's rants when they appeared on Rachel Maddow's radio show).

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  5. Quaker in a BasementJanuary 4, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Wait. The pollsters used an entirely subjective scale for a self-rating exercise, then pretended to apply mathematics to the result?

    Too bad that squid or octopus or whatever they had in England is no longer available.

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  6. Hey, the Quaker in a Basement may be right!

    Not sure you can 'average' such a thing -- just like Quaker says, if most people rate themselves, let's say, 4, or whatever it is, does that mean that American's are conservative, or what.

    Seems obvious, but maybe not. Quaker says it's subjective and it is. And you can't really 'average' such a subjective labeling system, now can you.

    The bottom line, is people may just like the word 'conservative.' Pretty sure I've heard that on actual issues people tend to be more toward the liberal side than they know. (sorry no cite).

    Really, the whole liberal/conservative dichotomy needs to be re-defined, or thrown out. It's a tribal labeling system. A piece on NakedCaptalism today makes the case that conservatives are romantic counterrevolutionaries, believers in the 'great man' theory of history, and want instability (more or less).

    I've often asked, 'what the heck are they trying to conserve, exactly.' The answer seems to be, autocracy, or even oligarchy. It sure isn't liberty, fraternity or equality.

    If you look at it right _we're_ the true conservatives, in terms of the stated/evolved ideals of the country. And the true patriots. Not to say the founding fathers weren't partly or mainly aristocrats.

    But regarding equality under law, the rule of law, level playing field, right of privacy, right to be secure in person and effects, right of due process, to peaceably assemble -- well, who's conservative now?

    Maybe these label things need to be clouded, if they can't go away all together.

    One more thing, Wit Man is right, I believe, Obama is farther to the right than most of the Republican field.

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