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.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:
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.
Perceived ideology of candidates, liberal-to-conservative, 1-5 scale:Are self-identified independents the holy grail of elections? Not necessarily. But these are the numbers which emerged from that group:
Americans’ average self-rating: 3.3
Defined ideological center: 3.0
Perceived ideology of candidates, 1-5 scale (independent respondents only):In this survey, independents perceived Romney to be fairly close to themselves ideologically. Obama was farther away.
Independents’ average self-rating: 3.2
Defined ideological center: 3.0
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