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Tilting at Windmills

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January 18, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

IDEOLOGY....Via Matt, here's a Pew chart that shows how the various presidential candidates are viewed by the population at large. What's interesting is that Democrats have almost exactly the same view of the Republican candidates as Republican voters do. Republicans, by contrast, have flatly insane views of the Democratic candidates, placing Obama in Dennis Kucinich territory and Hillary Clinton in some kind of socialist hell netherworld.

There are several theories you could advance for this disconnect. Mine is this: conservative voters are still far more afraid of liberals than liberals are of conservatives. And when it comes to Hillary Clinton, they're just nuts. However, there are plenty of other theories that might account for this too. Feel free to have a go at it in comments.

UPDATE: It's worth noting that the last time Pew did something like this (April 2007), the results were quite different. There was still the disconnect between Republican and Democratic views of Democratic candidates, but the average voter was right in the middle, not right of center, and the average Democrat was farther to the left. I'm not sure what the difference in methodology was between the two surveys, but last year's study is worth a look.

Kevin Drum 1:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (112)

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This is interesting. I tend not to think of any prominent republicans as drooling wingnut fascists - I save that contempt for Jonah Goldberg, Man Coulter and the rest of the right-wing commentariat.

But they think that about our candidates - and Clinton and Obama aren't the only ones demonized this way, I've met conservatives who think Gore should just change his name to Hugo Chavez and be done.

Does their machine just do a better job of getting the smear mem out there? Not even the MSM dislike of Clinton explains why conservatives would put her that far to the left.

Posted by: mmy on January 18, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

John Stewart Mill once said that the conservative party is the stupid party. Of course, this was after he lost an election on the liberal ticket.

However, there do seem to be more low-information voters on the right side of those scales. Also more fearful, confused people. People with less tolerance for differences and ambiguity. It may also have something to do with the sources of information different people rely on.

Posted by: Mimikatz on January 18, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Did I miss the new story about Edwards having dropped out of the race? What gives?

Posted by: junebug on January 18, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Aren't we forgetting a fairly prominent Democrat running for President by the name of JOHN F*CKING EDWARDS...!?!?!?!?

They include that moron Guiliani and he hasn't won a g*ddamn delegate...

Posted by: steveconga on January 18, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Poor Edwards. It must feel freaky to be so completely ignored by everyone! I don't support him but I do feel sorry for him.

Posted by: nepeta on January 18, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

[Trolling deleted]

Posted by: Al on January 18, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards really does have a point about being erased from the election discourse. It wouldn't be so outlandish if there weren't *five* Repubs.

Posted by: EmmaAnne on January 18, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Most Democrats get their info about candidates from traditional news sources where even fringe candidates are treated as worthy of consideration. Many Republicans get their news about candidates from fringe news sources and thus the skewing of placement.

Posted by: Th on January 18, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

I think Kevin pretty much nailed it.

But it is interesting that Republicans see Clinton as more liberal than Obama, whereas Democratic voters see just the reverse. I don't think there's a single right answer to that question. Obama's economic policies are (slightly) more market-oriented, but that's not necessarily the case about his foreign policy or environmental policy.

It certainly reveals the force of Hillary-hatred on the right. It might also reveal that Republican voters' hostility to liberals has more to do with rhetoric and social symbolism than with, say, foreign policy.

Posted by: Ted Underwood on January 18, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, where's Edwards?

Also: notice that on the R/D voter surveys, Bush shows up to the right of Huckaduck. But on the "all voters" survey, the order is reversed. What gives?

Is it the independents? If so, shouldn't we see "independent voter" rankings?

Posted by: Snarki o' Loki on January 18, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, this is like the perfect graphical representation of what we mean when we say the "reality-basd community." Democrats see the world as it is, Republicans See the world as FOX News tells them it should be.

Posted by: Frank Bruno on January 18, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

And, to be fair, it might also reveal that Democratic voters' definition of "liberal" overlaps with a generalized hostility to the establishment, so that an anti-establishment candidate gets counted reflexively as liberal no matter what his policy positions are.

Posted by: Ted again on January 18, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: mhr on January 18, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Where is Edwards? Why is Giuliani even on the chart? Why isn't Edwards even mentioned? This makes me so angry, this casual discarding of a viable, and perhaps the only, progressive Democratic candidate.

Posted by: jMe on January 18, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

My husband, a Democrat who will vote for our candidate every time, but is very uninformed about what's really going on (because we get in a fight every time I try to do that), thinks that Hillary is some wild-eyed liberal. I keep trying to make him understand that she really isn't, but since we fight over politics, I don't get very far....

Posted by: pol on January 18, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

There is a lot of delusion all around, but the Democrats are more so in this case. Of the major party candidates listed, the only one that should be closer to the moderate label than either the liberal or conservative one is Giuliani.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 18, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

ps-- I don't even care about the Republican candidates. That's one reason I read this blog.

Posted by: jMe on January 18, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

It comes as no surprise that Republicans think Hillary is to the left of Trotsky. That's what 15 years in the right-wing echo chamber will do.

What I find unusual is they have McCain pegged as much more moderate than his record suggests. I can't think of any objective standard under which Romney could be considered more conservative than McCain. Hell, depending on what point in time you are examining Romney's record he would be in the same spectrum as Obama and Clinton.

Posted by: Joe Bob on January 18, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going with the "they're just nuts" belief.

Posted by: Angela on January 18, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Do you notice how absent Edwards is from that chart? Accident, or malice?

Posted by: Scorpio on January 18, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Th got it right. More Repubs use propagandists (talk radio mostly) as their sole source of political info. And mhr exemplifies what they hear. She read some book in the 60's and that mmakes her a devotee - never mind her actual voting record, policy positions, etc. McCain also gets this treatment, though in a way that helps him.

Posted by: tokorode on January 18, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards was not polled because he is a marginal candidate without a chance of winning. Dennis Kucinich and Alan Keyes were also not polled for the same reason also. To add Edwards to the poll would make it more difficult to draw conclusions about the voters opinions of the primary Presidential candidates.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 18, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

5 R's and 2 D's.

Giuliani, whose gotten about 10 votes, is listed, but Edwards isn't?

The problem with the way Stalin made people disappear from history was that his methods weren't subtle enough. Blatantly erase somebody from books and photos and some folks are bound to notice that the revised versions have some serious omissions.

By contrast the contemporary American technique is to just ignore somebody more and more. Much more effective, and less labor intensive.

Posted by: alex on January 18, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I think Hillary Clinton's centrist image among liberals comes half from her awful votes and statements on Iran and Iraq and half from the awful, half-Republican Bill Clinton administration.

I think her far left image among conservatives comes from their Us vs Them mentality about everything. Policies and ideas have nothing to do with it. Bill and Hillary Clinton are the leaders of the enemy Liberals, which makes them the most liberal.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 18, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards is on the chart; he's just so far to the left that you only see him if you're viewing the internet on a wide-screen TV!

Posted by: Fred S. on January 18, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-liberal, what exactly makes Rudy a viable candidate at this point? Or did you simply not want to address why he was polled while Edwards, Kucinich and Alan Keyes were not?

By the way, you left out Ron Paul among the unpolled.

Posted by: Cap'n Phealy on January 18, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Poor Edwards.

HOWEVER - do note the brilliance of Huckabee's positioning. He's charging straight through the field of Repub candidates, to the consternation of the GOP, and aligns himself perfectly with the administration.
It's going to be a brutal election.

Posted by: SteinL on January 18, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Not sure if someone said this already, so I'll just plow ahead:

I think self-described liberals tend not to think of "liberal" policies as inherently liberal, just logical decisions based on available fact. On the other hand, to argue that tax cuts in economic times both good and bad speaks to, well, the irrational, and thus perhaps the irrational appraisal of the democratic candidates.

On the other hand, W has been about as bad a conservative as you could imagine, and hence less "fear" of republican candidates.

Posted by: Jon on January 18, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

mmy: I tend not to think of any prominent republicans as drooling wingnut fascists

Dick Cheney? Clarence Thomas? Alberto Gonzales? Karl Rove? Wander through the list of Armed Forces committee Republicans. It's not all simple power hunger; some of it is ideological neoconism.

Posted by: anandine on January 18, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Who is this Edwards person everyone talks about?

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 18, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going with: (1) Conservatives are misinformed, and (2) conservatives are delusional. Hillary Clinton is the most conservative Democrat running. Period. Anyone who can't see that isn't paying attention.

I have said before that the political spectrum has gotten shifted so far to the right that conservative weenies like Al Hunt are presented on talk shows as representing "the liberal viewpoint". WTF? Where are the representatives from the American Communist Party? If they want viewpoints that are as far left as Ann Coulters are far right, why don't they put on Jerry Rubin or one of the Symbionese Liberation Army, for Gods sake???

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 18, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

I've often wondered why the Republicons are so nuts about Hillary and make her sound like Commie Pinko when actually she is more a centrist than any of the other Dem candidates. I think it drives them wild that she is able to build bipartisan alliances that put their "demonizing liberals" act in jeopardy. I think Hillary has built relationships that will allow her to assuage the right wing culture war and start to heal the nation's social divide. Hillary understands economics and that frightens the Friedmanites.

Posted by: Cliff on January 18, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Hello ex-liberal! Are you ready to man up and answer?

How many deferments did you ask for and receive between 1963 when you graduated from high school, and 1973 when conscription ended?

Posted by: Isle of Lucy on January 18, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

jeebus, no Edwards. And kevin, isn't it even worth mentioning that Edwards isn't listed here? I know the whole well-he's-not-viable-due-to-lack-of-money-so-we aren't-mentioning-him deal, except that this is a goddamn liberal blog, practicing the kind of advocacy journalism that really ought to take a candidates substance more seriously than the horse race obsessed MSM, AND, there could be some kind of connection between influential liberal bloggers not taking him seriously and the lack of money pouring into his campaign.

So, could you please comment on it when he's shunted aside (despite having almost as many delegates as Obama and Clinton)instead of engaging in the same kind of circular reasoning that the straight, corporate press uses to justify it's Edwards blackout?

Oh, and maybe there's some connection between whow far Republican voters think Hillary is to the left and how much she would do, as a candidate, to make sure that those same voters turn up at the polls in November jsut to vote against her, no matter how sorry-ass their candidate is?

Posted by: URK on January 18, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Who is this Edwards person everyone talks about?
Posted by: Yancey Ward

speaking of low-information voters of the right ...

Posted by: Anon on January 18, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

I guess Edwards only apppears on the three-dimensional version of this plot, because populism is on the z axis?

I find it odd that all three plots put Rudy as the most moderate of the Rethuglicans. I guess extreme authoritarianism isn't considered a conservative value? The idea that Rudy could be the candidate that was ideologically closest to 'all voters' self-location just shows how little people really know about the candidates and their ideological positions.

(Besides, isn't Romney's position some kind of indeterminate wave function that only collapses into a single value at each individual campaign stop? Can he be said to actually have "a" position at all?)

Posted by: biggerbox on January 18, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that the issue here is the following:

Democrats generally think "liberal" means "person who supports public health care, public education, taxation weighted towards the rich rather than towards the poor, equal rights for people regardless of their sexual preference, and so forth".

Republicans generally think "liberal" means "person I hate."

Posted by: ugh on January 18, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I know he's completely non-viable, but it's also a shame that Ron Paul is not on these charts. I would be fascinated to see where the average American would put him on a simple left-right scale like this. I think most political junkies would call him 'conservative', but I'm not so sure that's how he's being portrayed in the popular consciousness.

Posted by: tom veil on January 18, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

No doubt including Edwards would reveal all voters to be more closely aligned with Edwards than Obama or Clinton.

Amazing that Edwards has done as well as he has considering the virtual blackout and bias against him. Once again the media and pollsters and bloggers favor and push incompetence and flash and show a marked bias against real depth and hard work in candidates. The only good writers out there examining issues seem to be Krugman and Sirota.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 18, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Hello, EDWARDS???

What the hell? They're polling Giuliani and not Edwards? Didn't Giuliani acutally LOSE to Ron Paul in one of these Primary states?

And Edwards is a heck of an interesting case--it would be fascinating to see if his message makes people peg him as conservative or liberal--especially in relationship to the two other candidates!

It's just crazy that he's not in this. Inexcusable, and what axe does Pew have to grind?

Posted by: anonymiss on January 18, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

LMAO! As soon as I wrote it, I knew someone would completely miss the joke.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 18, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

This is why I fear Sen. Clinton as the nominee, she does drive conservatives nuts, and is the one of the big 3 Dems who will increase their turnout. I see it clearly around this part of Missouri, and know that is was part of Claire McCaskill's decision to endorse Obama.

Posted by: RollaMO on January 18, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

God. Why the FUCK are Thompson and Giuliani on here and not Edwards?

Posted by: fumphis on January 18, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK


Imagine how Dems are going to feel when whichever of the lame-brains the GOP finally decides to go up against her, actually wins the GE. ;^)

Posted by: RollaMO on January 18, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

I think that the biggest single motivation for republican conservatives is also one of the oldest: fear that someone will come along and insist on the obvious fact that the distribution of wealth in the country is grotesquely out of balance, and must be rectified, coupled with one of the oldest fears of all, which happens to inhabit both republican men and women, and that is the unreasoning fear of a woman with intelligence and power who is not afraid of men. This is why I believe republican conservatives so loathe Hillary Clinton. I also believe that their hatred of Bill Clinton stems from the fact that he is not afraid of Hillary. To me it's not too much more complicated than this, because I see the conservatives as emotionally very very primitive people.

Posted by: rbe1 on January 18, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Mine is this: conservative voters are still far more afraid of liberals than liberals are of conservatives.

Who, in their right mind, would ever be afraid of any wimpy ass conservative? They are scared of their own shadows for Christ's sake! And the ones that act tough are doing just that, acting. They still think that tough talk shit that used to work on the playground still works. But hey, that's a conservative for you...

Posted by: elmo on January 18, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

My real curiosity is with the repub candidates. What happens if they continue to be so uninspiring to their base that they arrive at the convention with no clear cut nominee? Wouldn't that be an open convention where other names might be considered. Who do you think they might consider? Bloomberg?

Posted by: fillphil on January 18, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

If you reapeat a lie long enough and with force it will eventually move minds.
That is all.

Posted by: Northern Observer on January 18, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK


Bloggers are being smart, both Hillary and specifically Barak are attracting upscale voters/consumers.

Left blogs know to tailor their political messages to folks that have money, the folks that matter. Kevin is just tailoring his political message to upscale consumers the same way MSM does.

Edwards message of help for the downtrodden just does not have appeal to the upscale consumers of the left. Kevin is just doing what any business would do. Take restaurants, haven't you guys heard the term "given the bums rush" applied to people whom management felt might disturb the tranquility of the upscale customers. In pre FDR days it was common practice, Kevin just following the rules of the gilded age...and why shouldn't he?

Heck, I remember a time when people of color couldn't eat in the same restaurant...now we exclude people base on class affiliation...much more civilized don't you think?

Posted by: S Brennan on January 18, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't anybody else miss Fred Thompson? Poor Fred.

Posted by: gemini on January 18, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

You know, it's kind of nice around here without nasty comments.

My compliments to the moderator.

Posted by: Bob M on January 18, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

An idiotology meter would be far more useful.

One can be placed here or there on an idealogy scale but an idiot's an idiot.

If the numbers point towards more idiocy than not,
the person's a dolt and has no business being president (oops, we already have a bonafide in office!). Anyone who is mostly non-idiotic is more electable.

Or so we would like to think.


Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 18, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

What I find worrisome is that in the "All Voters" chart, Giuliani, McCain and Romney are seen as closer to where the average voter places themselves ideologically than are Clinton or Obama. True or not (and I view both Clinton and Obama as "within the margin of error" of being moderate), that says to me that the Democratic nominee will have a more difficult general election fight than 8 years of GWB might lead you to believe.

If the Democratic nominee will need to move further (in rhetoric if not in substance)from the party's base to appeal to the middle come November, will the liberal base turn out in numbers sufficient to carry the day?

Posted by: Shaun on January 18, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Sen. Feingold just got Edwards pushed off the chart. Ain't hard to do when you are the most problematic Dem running, as the esteemed Senator says. Though I wonder why he doesn't also see the problems of dynasty, sense of entitlement, exaggerated experience and high negatives that Clinton offers.

Posted by: manfred on January 18, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

"... Democratic voters see just the reverse. I don't think there's a single right answer to that question. Obama's economic policies are (slightly) more market-oriented, but that's not necessarily the case about his foreign policy or environmental policy."
Posted by: Ted Underwood on January 18, 2008

I think a lot of us saw Obama as an 'agent of change' and 'Progressive' earlier in the campaign. But, after Iowa we began to look more closely and saw his record and attachment to Joe Lieberman and his speeches where he reached out to Republicans and this made it much more clear that it wasn't Hillary over on the Right, it's Obama.

I agree there are two (or more) ways to delineate the candidates. Edwards, for example, talks about corporatism on one hand and policy suggestions on the other. they can produce very different views of where a candidate stands. His aggression towards nasty corporations seems to put him far to the Left, but his general populism puts him much further to the Right and except for his health care reform plan we don't know precisely where people would think he is based on other policy positions. It's a complicated picture.

On Hillary, there's hatred and fear from the Right and there's her corporate connections and there's her policy positions. Edwards supporters actually overlap with Clinton supporters in a lot of ways. We generally favor the same kinds of policies. But we differ greatly on how much we feel corporate influence is damaging governance.

It's no surprise Republicans see Dems incorrectly. They only get incorrect information.

That Dems see Repubs correctly (for the most part) indicates we're on the ball. Where Independents are is another question.

Posted by: MarkH on January 18, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Shaun, if Clinton is the nominee do you think a part of the liberal base (African Americans), or at least a large fraction of this component might just stay home?

And, how about those young voters who showed up in Iowa? Can't quite see them chanting "Hillary!"

Just wondering where we are headed.

Posted by: manfred on January 18, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

"No doubt including Edwards would reveal all voters to be more closely aligned with Edwards than Obama or Clinton."
Posted by: Chrissy on January 18, 2008

Look at the chart of Dems where they put Obama & Clinton in center-left. That's where Edwards is probably seen. Know why I guess that? It's because they've been drifting toward his policy positions for the past 9 months. It's obvious he's not shown on teh chart because he's the invisible guy they're overlapping. He's the guy they're standing in front of, so the public can't see him.

Posted by: MarkH on January 18, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

I like the way that all the Republicans are on the chart down to the last theocratic wingnut creep, but Edwards isn't on the chart at all. Our glorious corporate statists are trying to tell us something, apparently.

Posted by: Michael on January 18, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

OT: At my URL is my take on Commissar Goldberg, whom many underestimate. The gist:
1. By seeming like a nice professor talking NPR-talk, Goldberg makes himself more plausible than Coulter, Malkin, et al.

2. Refuting his points is not hard, but somewhat futile, because his core supporters are fanatics and his target audience is thoughtless moderates who don't pay attention.

3. His main significance is bringing his farfetched views to respectability, whether or not many are convinced. Certain extreme statements are no longer outrageous, and some people will half-believe them.

4. His game is only possible because the movement Republicans have intimidated the media into guaranteeing them positions, on the model of Soviet commissars planted in universities, etc.

5. These Republican media plants cannot be fired because they were hired to be Republican mouthpieces, and they have an intimidating effect on everyone else in media, because they show that media management is willing to accept almost anything from the right, but not the left.

6. If what I say is true, Goldberg will succeed in making his false and slanderous ideas respectable, because almost no one will dare confront him the way he deserves. Irony and mild disagreement on points of detail are not good enough, because Goldberg is a flat-earther and hatemonger who needs to be expelled from the debate. But he won't be.

7. Goldberg has been backtracking and mushing up his message, but he doesn't need to sell the whole thing. He just needs to confuse the issue -- above all he needs to divert attention from his own party's chauvinist, authoritarian, militarist, cult-of-personality approach to fascism. (Everything but the roving gangs of thugs.)

(On the Progressives: some of what people are saying is true, but the Progressives were more often Republicans than Democrats (e.g. Theodore Roosevelt). And Wilson during WWI was highly authoritarian, and by that token a definite model for Bush's unitary executive and restrictions of civil liberties. The Democratic Party is more than 200 years old and in its present form dates back to the Civil Rights era of 40 years ago or so, when the great majority of the racist authoritarian Democrats switched to the Republican Party.)

Posted by: John Emerson on January 18, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Commissar Goldberg

Posted by: John Emerson on January 18, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Why are there 5 Republican candidates compared but still only 2 for the Dems? Why is Edwards being so totally ignored? My feeling is because he actually IS an agent of change. Can't have anyone getting into office who will actually make a difference, can we?

Posted by: pb on January 18, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK
Is it the independents?

Well, its not "Democratic voters" and its not "Republican voters", and the poll is of registered voters, so that leaves "non-Democratic, non-Republican registered voters" as the only possible explanation.

If so, shouldn't we see "independent voter" rankings?

Its not unusual for a polling outfit, in presenting summary tables or graphs, to break out only the overall results and particular categories they feel are important, without the broken-out categories being a complete breakdown of all the detail that combines to form the overall results. So, while they would be a kind of aesthetic ideal, there is no real reason to expect that that would be done.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Face it; conservatives live in a hole (metaphorically speaking). What would you believe if you depended on Rush Limbaugh and the Wall Street Journal editorial page for information?

Posted by: fafner1 on January 18, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. The Edwards blackout is really cranking up over the last week. Perhaps some collective subconscious desire of the fatcat strata -- made substantive by sheer force of will -- to deny him his last chance in Nevada? Makes a person wonder if you haven't hallucinated a candidate or two. Not the best demonstration of democracy "the west" can muster, is it?

Posted by: henryX on January 18, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives are idiots.

Next question.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on January 18, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

"If the Democratic nominee will need to move further (in rhetoric if not in substance)from the party's base to appeal to the middle come November, will the liberal base turn out in numbers sufficient to carry the day?"
IMHO Any Democrat will accept any one of the top 3 candidates over any of the Republicon candidates. Most independents will accept any of the top 3 Democrats over any of the Repubs. If anyone stays home it will be the conservative base who are not satisfied with any of the Republicons. The group to watch is the Huckster and his christo-fascists.

Posted by: Cliff on January 18, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

What a completely silly (oh, sorry, I meant "reality-based") analysis by both Drum and Yglesias. The Clintons are disliked because they're sleazy - that, in turn, colors people's perceptions of them on other attributes too. But whatever. What else can we see in this chart, hmmm? Nothing else to see here? Just move right along? Oh, yes:

- the average voter is somewhere between "moderate" and "conservative"

- the average voter is ideologically very close to Giuliani and McCain (and not so far from Romney)

- the average voter is much further from Obama and Clinton than they are from Huckabee (!)

This is all very interesting and, if you're Drum or Yglesias, something you would clearly rather not think about.

Posted by: on January 18, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans simply are unable to see any nuance whatsoever in democrats. If you're a democrat, in their eyes you're pretty much a combination of a Soviet communist with "French" cowardice-disguised-as-pacifism ideas, who happens to live in the U.S. This is what they mean when they say "liberal." Actually, I take back my first sentence. That's not a lack of nuance. That's angry ignorance run rampant.

Posted by: Tom in Houston on January 18, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

"There is a lot of delusion all around, but the Democrats are more so in this case."

ROFL.... Oh my... I can't wait for the evidence that supports this assertion. Free clue: take the Democratic candidate positions and compare them to the national polls on the issues.

"Of the major party candidates listed, the only one that should be closer to the moderate label than either the liberal or conservative one is Giuliani."

Giuliani, a moderate?! Speaking of delusions....

Posted by: PaulB on January 18, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's interesting that Democratic voters identified themselves as "moderate," while Republican voters identified themselves as "conservative." If it's a relative scale, shouldn't the self-identification dots be roughly equidistant from the center? But they're not even close.

Maybe this is because when people identify themselves they like to use terms they view as complimentary. Talk radio has successfully turned "liberal" into an opprobrium, so everybody's huddled in a corner as far away from it as they can get. And Republican voters seem to predicate it of a Democratic candidate to the extent they don't like that candidate.

It's also interesting that the Democratic voters view all the Republican candidates as closer together than the Republican voters do, and vice versa. We tend to see more differences among people who resemble us, like the white guy who thinks all black people look alike.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on January 18, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives are basically all blinded by ideology and have been brainwashed by listening to Lamebaugh and O'Leilly. They are so worried about their wallets they have no energy left to think about any other thing, at ALL.

Of COURSE they have no idea what the Democrats are all about.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 18, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Democrats generally think 'liberal' means 'person who supports public health care, public education, taxation weighted towards the rich rather than towards the poor, equal rights for people regardless of their sexual preference, and so forth'.

Republicans generally think 'liberal' means 'person I hate.'"

Ding ding ding!

Posted by: Joe on January 18, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

I can explain it in two words:

Rush (the drug-addict so addicted he made himself deaf) Limbaugh.

Okay, eleven words, but I absolutely cannot believe how many people blindly follow that guy.


Posted by: Tripp on January 18, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Houston, the Rethugs sow the rewards of their 'Us vs. them' view of the political field. America desperately needs an 'Us AND them' leader and uniter.

Posted by: slanted tom on January 18, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you don't have to be so humble. Liberal thinkers do look at candidates, politicians, commenters, other people, etc. in a more rational, centrist-benchmarked way.

Posted by: Neil B. on January 18, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Leaving Edwards out was pretty shitty. BTW, here's the contact info for the Pew Research Center:

Contact the Pew Research Center

Pew Research Center
1615 L Street, NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036

main phone 202-419-4300
main fax 202-419-4349
email info@pewresearch.org

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press
phone 202-419-4350
fax 202-419-4399

phone 202-419-4450
fax 202-419-4453

Pew Internet & American Life Project
phone 202-419-4500
fax 202-419-4505

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
phone 202-419-4550
fax 202-419-4559

Pew Hispanic Center
phone 202-419-3600
fax 202-419-3608

Pew Global Attitudes Project
phone 202-419-4350
fax 202-419-4399

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 18, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB >"...Giuliani, a moderate?! Speaking of delusions...."

Must be spending a lot of time in one of those smoke filled rooms Kevin mentioned the other day

"The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." - Edmund Burke

Posted by: daCascadian on January 18, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK
a part of the liberal base ... might just stay home?….manfred at 3:43 PM
Nope, dislike for Bush Republicans is too strong. People would have to be restrained from making their protest vote.
….I don't support him...nepeta at 1:55 PM
You should

By Staying In The Campaign, Edwards Helps Obama
by: Chris Bowers

As the arguments against Edwards begin to mount online, I want to point out something that should be obvious to Obama supporters, but which I have rarely seen mentioned. By staying in the campaign, Edwards is helping Obama in states with large African-American populations....

Posted by: Mike on January 18, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards? Edwards who?

Posted by: RS on January 18, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Where's Edwards?

Posted by: grape_crush on January 18, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary is seen by some of my conservative acquaintances as being a borderline radical liberal because that's where she started out, even though she (with Bill and his triangulating, of course) has been presenting herself as closer to "centrist" for purposes of getting into the White House. The assumption is that once in, with a Democrat-controlled legislature, she will rediscover her Saul Alinsky roots.

I don't really buy that view, because with Hillary I believe it really IS all about the glory and control and power and regaining the leverage to cut down those who oppose her.

But I can tell you, as someone who worked in the corporate sector and still has ties there, that a significant feeling of: "scratch the veneer and there is a radical underneath" still exists re: HRC.

I also think that Hillary is just plain despised by a lot of people, and so (as was mentioned up-thread) those who completely reject her on all levels put her in the "extreme liberal" category because that's the only way of saying, in this kind of poll, that in their view she is the worst of the worst in all respects.

Posted by: Terry Ott on January 18, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

"(I)f Clinton is the nominee do you think a part of the liberal base (African Americans), or at least a large fraction of this component might just stay home?

And, how about those young voters who showed up in Iowa? Can't quite see them chanting "Hillary!"

I fear that the disillusionment might take hold for any Democratic nominee who openly tilts towards the middle. Young voters, for example, are have not been historically reliable when it comes to GOTV efforts. How will these first time involveds feel if they think their candidate commits heresy in the name of going where the votes are. Would the prospect of voting for the first female or African-American nominee of a major party propel a higher turnout among young/first-time voters?

Again, my concern is that this poll shows its average voter closer to the "mainstream" GOP candidates when measured against the ideological continuum. Maybe the perceived need for "change" will outweight the perceived placement of Clinton and Obama (and Edwards, in reality, if not in this poll) away from where that average voter lands in terms of ideological fit.

That said, we've all recently seen that polling can raise as many questions as it answers. I am curious as to where the true independents, or undecideds. are in the charts. The article on the Pew website indicates that there were 1,515 people polled, yet the charts show 499 Rep/Lean Rep. and 621 Dem/Lean Dem. I did not see whether the other 404 people polled either did not reply or did not affiliate. If they are not included in the ideological profile, I'm not sure the study tells us very much.

Following the links, however, I did find the following information on independent voters within the report:

"Strong majorities of independent voters express positive views of John McCain (64%) and Barack Obama (62%). No other candidate is viewed favorably by a majority of independent voters. Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton receive the highest unfavorable ratings. Fully half of independent voters rate Giuliani negatively and about the same number has an unfavorable view of Clinton (48%)."

Posted by: Shaun on January 18, 2008 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

The reason conservatives put Hillary so far to the left is because they hate anyone to the left of Pat Robertson. And they have been told they must hate Hillary.

When you add those two together, you get what the chart shows: Hillary as a leftist. They have to put her there because it matches their preconceived notions.

After all, if they actually looked at the policies of her husband and those she has supported in the Senate, they'd realize that she is, in all measurable reality, pretty damned centrist.

Posted by: Mark D on January 18, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

The most important thing is how much closer to the voters ("all voters") the republicans are than the democrats. This is why democrats have a hard time winning elections (for President). The base of the party keeps nominating candidates that are too liberal for the majority of voters.

This election should have been a landslide for democrats, but it would have taken the base of the party being rational about who was going to be the nominee. Mark Warner is an example of a democrat who could have easily won this year. Hillary and Obama are not.

Posted by: Jonesy on January 18, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ask and yea shall receive:

An older instance of the same survey. Including Edwards.


Incidentally -- this is one of my sources for the contention that Edwards manages to be the liberal candidate with the greatest crossover appeal.

Posted by: Adam on January 18, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Jonesy, you are absolutely right about Warner. He would have been an excellent choice.

But given what we have, I think Obama is the clear better choice. Unfortunately I think Hillary will be the eventual nominee.

A Warner-Obama ticket gives me palpitations. What could have been.

We Dems are dumb.

Posted by: Manfred on January 18, 2008 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK
Giuliani, a moderate?!

If one took the Libertarians' two-dimension (Left/Right & Libertarian/Authoritarian) model seriously, you could probably argue for Guiliani being a less right and more authoritarian than most other Republicans, and thus perhaps somewhat near the center on the left/right axis without being actually "moderate".

Posted by: cmdicely on January 18, 2008 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's a false dichotomy. Everyone on the list is a blood-thirsty warmongering fascist. But then what do you expect, from a race baiter, but pumping for fascists?

Posted by: Casper Hauser on January 18, 2008 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Add me to those who want to know where the hell is Edwards. He definitely has more support than most of those GOP clowns. Is the media determined to eliminate him???

Posted by: sparky on January 18, 2008 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an Obama supporter, but I don't think the Repub view is entirely out of line at this point. Hillary and Obama [maybe Edwards too bwahahaha] have been voting for and speaking primarily to the nutroots over the last year, intending to tac back towards the center after the nomination. Repubs have been listening: Obama's vote against John Roberts, for example, was a pretty definite pander to the fanatics rather than a vote on the merits.

Posted by: mr insensitive on January 18, 2008 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

If you think of the posted Pew Research chart in terms of "social conservativeness" and forget about foreign policy or fiscal policy then this data makes sense. When people are asked about the labels "liberal" and "conservative" they aren't thinking about the economic and security issues as much as they are the social side.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 18, 2008 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

mr. insensitive, what happened to your solemn promise to leave and never post here again solely on Blue Girl's say-so?

She said so.

Posted by: shortstop on January 18, 2008 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm an Obama supporter"

Yeah, right....

"but I don't think the Repub view is entirely out of line at this point."

Well, sure, if you're a moron.

"Hillary and Obama [maybe Edwards too bwahahaha] have been voting for and speaking primarily to the nutroots over the last year"

No, dear, they haven't, which is why you haven't bothered to supply any evidence for this silly assertion. Go ahead, show me their wacky far-out positions that aren't shared by the majority of the voters. We'll be right here waiting for you.

"intending to tac back towards the center after the nomination."

Dear heart, they are already at the center.

"Repubs have been listening"

Dear heart, it would matter not one whit what their actual positions are -- the Republican attach machine will go into full spin regardless.

"Obama's vote against John Roberts, for example, was a pretty definite pander to the fanatics rather than a vote on the merits."

ROFL.... Dear heart, have you actually seen what Roberts has done? And how clearly he lied to Congress? Opposing him was quite clearly a "vote on the merits."

Posted by: PaulB on January 18, 2008 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

I wish they had a few more axes.

Posted by: B on January 18, 2008 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, where's the Edwards' placement?


Posted by: jawbone on January 18, 2008 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Being in a rambling mood, let me add that Obama's pastor Mr. Wright is certainly going to be big news on mad-radio and thence the MSM if Obama gets the nomination. This pastor seems to be certifiably nuts.

I wonder whether the Clintons will play this card too. Probably not, unless Obama's support suddenly rises, which I think is unlikely the more he is painted into a racial corner, whether by the recent MLK-LBJ fracas or by his black support growing monumentally (which is in the broader picture unfortunate). So many complications. So little hope. So hard to transcend race, even when one absolutely has that intent. Argh, misery.

Posted by: Manfred on January 18, 2008 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Or...is Edwards off the chart?

Posted by: jawbone, aka Rabid Lamb with Venomous Fangs on January 18, 2008 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

scanning through the commments, my question is where does ted kennedy fit on this scale? most would argue he is certainly the epitome of a liberal. so if obama's voting record in the senate is a virtual duplicate of Sen Kennedy, does that not also make him a liberal based on what he does versus what he says?
I can see the case for Clinton being seen as moderate based on her foreign policy voting record.
also interesting that no one is identified as fully conservative by anyone. though association with religion whether by actual declaration or identification (did you know romney is a mormon? repeated endlessly) seems to push perception to the right. except for obama (perhaps another identification feature dominates more than his religious allusions in his speeches)

Posted by: grr on January 18, 2008 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Politics are relative. So moderate, left and right depend where you stand. No West European would see anyone much on the left.

Why is Giuliani in the center. He's a fascist!

And, one more voice, where the f**k is Edwards. That omission makes no sense and degrades the Pew poll.

They are usually better than that.

Posted by: notthere on January 19, 2008 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

scanning through the commments, my question is where does ted kennedy fit on this scale?

ideology means what?
putting you on a chart means what?

kennedy might be liberal
but opposition to wind machines at sea
to make power for the people
to generate some lights for people
nah, he says
clouds my view, you see
so i admire a kennedy for this
and that
but i can't admire a kennedy
who don't want wind machines
where he puts his toe in the water

your milage might vary there
but who cares what the chart says
are ya gonna end the war
or are ya gonna bomb people we ain't met yet?

wheres the chart that'll tell ya that?
what do i know
i'm a bunny that can't leave anything in piles behnd me
but i know there ain't gonna be a chart
that'll tell ya
when the war is gonna end
and who is gonna end it

Posted by: Constipated Bunny on January 19, 2008 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

And now...my 2-cent....

Where the hell is Edwards?

Another example of the stupid Media.

Posted by: James on January 19, 2008 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

Edwards? Who is Edwards?

Posted by: I_dunno on January 19, 2008 at 2:30 AM | PERMALINK

Edwards is this guy who has practically no support, and has no shot at the nomination (kind of like Giuliani - not sure why they included him). I heard Edwards on NPR yesterday, sucking up to NV voters by saying he opposes nuclear power. Well, if he didn't have my support before, now he has my opposition.

Posted by: Tom on January 19, 2008 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

I guess Edwards should become a Red guy so he can get some kind of press from anybody. Funny how he beat Clinton in Iowa.

Posted by: Michael on January 19, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno - he never left Iowa. His operations in Iowa never shut down after the general election in 2004. Why did Obama beat him?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on January 19, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK


You're right, due to commenting on different threads during the same time period I did miss that memo. So long folks, have a great life - this is my last post.

Posted by: mr insensitive on January 19, 2008 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

As the general public has no idea what the terms 'liberal' and 'conservative' mean, there's no real puprose to these kind of polls.

It shows what you'd expect, that years of the media telling them that 'conservative' was the right answer to every question has had some impact. So voters claim they are more conservative even though by they are more liberal on every issue than they were in 2000.

Posted by: soullite on January 19, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Found an amazing article on the topic on www.SAVAGEPOLITICS.com
The article is called "Political Orthodoxy and its American Priesthood". Here is an excerpt:

"A highly disguised problem facing our Nation today is the incessant pressure laid upon intellectual freedom, both in its development and its expression. We find throughout the Media a bitter contempt for any reference to ideas, people or sources which THEY have determined should never be discussed. As an example, if you were ever invited to appear in any Television Network to give your perspective on any subject and you decided to use as an example the words of Fidel Castro to illustrate a particular point, they would immediately reprimand you for mentioning a Communist Dictator as a good example of anything. This would happen because our Media has become, what I like to call, “The American Orthodox Church of Information”, an organ that rapidly attacks and removes from the public eye anyone who seems to deviate from the accepted discourse. When did the United States, founded by intellectuals of the magnitude of Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson (just to name a few), ever ended up being the home to one of the most inquisitive Press mediums on the Planet?

Our Nation was founded on many Enlightenment Era principles, amongst them the belief that Private Property was a necessity for true happiness and that religion should never be established by the government. But to them, the most dramatically important one was Intellectual Freedom, since only from this foundation can Liberty actually be built upon. Thomas Paine, with his subversive Common Sense (1776) and later on with Rights of Man (1791), established a tradition of expressing revolutionary thoughts, irrespective of what the majority felt was adequate, and against the will of the strongest Empire that had ever existed: The British Empire. Thomas Jefferson, categorized by many historians as a “philosophical anarchist”, wrote notes on the life of Jesus which were published after his passing as The Jefferson Bible, where he clearly ridiculed the mythological belief in Jesus and proceeded to strip away from the Gospels all content which he considered superstitious, leaving it bare of religiosity and only permitting humanity to be the creator of its own morality. Alexander Hamilton, with his active participation in the famous Federalist Papers, and who was deeply loved and admired by George Washington, was an ardent believer in the incapacity..." Find the rest of the article at www.SAVAGEPOLITICS.com

Posted by: ELSY on January 19, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

"There are several theories you could advance for this disconnect."

I'm not sure you've actually identified the central disconnect here. What interests me is that Democrats don't seem to think there any liberals to speak of in this crowd. Maybe they've fallen for the Republican rhetoric, because apparently you have to be a nutcase like Kucinich before they'll call you a liberal. Perhaps you should consider the possibility that Democrats don't see themselves very clearly.

Doesn't it surprise you that Democrats think there's not nearly as much difference between Huckabee/Bush and Obama/Clinton than Republicans do? Where Republicans see a spectrum, Democrats see a cluster. Maybe they're just not as good at distinguishing ideological diffferences -- or not as interested -- and hence lump everyone closer together. The information deficit is not necessarily on the Republican side of the divide either. According to Pew, 59% of Republicans knew who won the Iowa caucuses, while only 44% of Democrats could muster up both names correctly.

Contra the "insanity" of placing Clinton to the left of Obama, the only place Hillary has landed to the right of Obama is on the war. Most Republicans would cite Hillary's attempt to "nationalize" healthcare as her signature issue and "we're going to take your money" as emblematic rhetoric. You only need to look at her "Christmas message" to see why they think Hillary is nanny state liberalism personified.

It's interesting, and perhaps telling, that when you look at media coverage of the two presidential campaigns, you hear about a 3-way ideological rift on the right, and a lot of rhetoric about race, gender, and class on the left. If you end up with nothing to offer but insanity theory to explain what folks on the right are thinking, maybe the acuity of their perceptions is not the problem.

Posted by: JM Hanes on January 19, 2008 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

In all honesty:How about a John Edwards/Ron Paul.
A anti big cororation dem pro labor/A strict ,Constionalist,baby doctor ,states rights rep.50% /50%...it could work...let the people pick who gets top billing..one would hold the Congress /Senate vote breaker/one the Veto power
We need to think "out side the box" countrys going to heck in a basket..

Posted by: johnnyelectric on January 20, 2008 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

The fascist, oligarchal corporatists are afraid of a John Edwards administration, while they'll be able to "work with" either a Clinton or Obama administration...that is, "business" as ususl.

John Edwards has already proven though his litigation record that he's willing to take on the corporatists and hold them accountable for their excesses that have done so much damage to our democracy and the income aspirations of working, middle-class American families.

The corporatist CEOs pocket millions of dollars in bonuses each year, while befouling our environment, shafting shareholders and viewing their workers as dispensable.

In November, I will vote for whichever Democrat wins the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, but I've realized for some time now that the corporate news media is ignoring John Edwards because he represents the real threat to their, and their fellow corporate, country club pals, "business" as usual agenda for our country.

Obama and Clinton, on the other hand, count Democratic Party turncoat Joe Lieberman as one of their close Senate friends, which means to me that Obama and Clinton will probably a) continue much of what the Bush/Cheney mal-administration has been doing, and b) not hold the outgoing Bush/Cheney administration responsible for their numerous criminal acts.

A President John Edwards, I hope, would not only reverse much of the neo-fascist policies of the worst administration in American history, but would also conduct thorough criminal investigations into everyone in the Bush/Cheney mal-administration. Letting Bush and Cheney walk out of the White House without facing criminal charges would be equivalent to letting a murderer go scot-free.

Posted by: The Oracle on January 20, 2008 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

I wish they would have given us an Independents only view of the candidates so that we could see what the perception of the Independents of Clinton and Obama were.

The big issue is probably the extent that the Independents view the respective R and D candidates close to their own perceived place on the Liberal Conservative spectrum.

Not good that Clinton and Obama are viewed so liberal for getting the Independent vote in the General election.

Posted by: Mardg on January 21, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK



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