Is There A Future For Moderation in the Democratic Party?


Charles Blow wonders, is the Democratic Party experiencing the beginnings of a purging of moderates akin to that seen on the right? His starting point is a Gallup Poll out Thursday:

[T]he percentage of Democrats who identify as liberal rose by nearly a third from 2000 to 2007, for the first time matching the percentage who describe themselves as moderate. Over the same period, the percentage of conservative Democrats declined. In 2000, there was a relatively small margin between the number of liberal Democrats and conservative Democrats. Now there are twice as many liberal Democrats as conservative ones.

His entire column seemingly assumes that, “near-term,” moderates are in trouble in the Democratic party and “the ultraliberal, self-professed brains of the party” are “foaming at the mouth” and will get their comeuppance if they prevail:

Another problem for far-left liberals is that they demonstrate an insatiable appetite for eating their own. Another Gallup poll, also released on Thursday, found a worrisome trend: President Obama’s approval rating among liberal Democrats, while still high, has slipped 10 percent since Nov. 1; but, among moderate Democrats, it has held steady.

Read it yourself and explain it to me because I’m not getting it. I see Obama losing only 10 points among liberals as doing remarkably well given the mid-term “shellacking” and the tax deal and everything else that’s gone down this year. Even Blow admits his numbers are “still high.”

If Obama gets a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal success today, that ought to help some with the base. But, really, just how much does that “ultra-liberal” base matter right now? Obama has always been more moderate than liberal; it’s the Right Wing that defines him as far-left. And he’s doing ok with the middle.

That first Gallup poll finds moderates trending down in the Democratic party, but at 35% today when they were at 36% in 1992. The high for the period was just 40%. Meanwhile, Doug Mataconis looks at Pollster.com numbers and finds that independents may be warming up to Obama again:


The fact that President Obama is in such good shape is surprising given the general public attitude about the state of the country. According to the poll, 63% of those survey believe the country is on the wrong track, only 32% think will get better in the next years, and 54% think that the past ten years have been bad, or possibly the worst in American history…

At this point in his Presidency, Ronald Reagan had a 41% job approval rating, and Bill Clinton had a 42% rating. According to this poll, Obama is outperforming both of them. In other words, the public is still willing to give the President a chance and, if the economy improves, he is likely to be in very good shape when 2012 rolls around.

What if we are moving ever so slightly from a Center Right country towards a Center Left country? Blow says himself that “demographic [trends]… work in the Democrats’ favor.” We are today a closely divided not deeply divided country. Blow’s job is numbers or, rather, “feature charts as a form of opinion journalism.” The opinion and the charts are evident but the conclusions he draws from those polls are simple assertion.

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