Monday, June 15, 2009

America Still Conservative in Many Ways

An interesting new Gallup poll today found that there are twice as many conservatives as liberals in the country. We have a democrat in the White House and a democratic-controlled congress. Didn’t the voters say they wanted a break from the conservative governance of the past 40 years?

Perhaps not. The two biggest reasons Obama won were dissatisfaction with George W. Bush and the financial crisis. On some level, people were voting against mounting casualties in Iraq and his handling of Hurricane Katrina. And in times of economic distress, democrats usually benefit.

Also, Obama has put the spotlight on some issues that might make people feel more conservative. For example, lifting the global gag order and closing down Guantanamo were decisions that majorities of Americans disagree with. Furthermore, the large amount of borrowing by the government surely has plenty of Americans a little worried.

In some ways it is hard to square these numbers with Obama’s approval rating which remains high. Despite the fact that Americans disproportionately identify as conservative, they want to give him a chance to do well because so much is at stake. And they feel like he is making a good-faith effort to fix the economy and make their lives better.

Nonetheless, this has to be a warning to democrats in Washington. They need to be careful about making sweeping changes. This is not to say that they cannot pass universal healthcare for example; they just need to implement a plan that takes into account Americans’ conservative feelings.

It will be interesting to see how these numbers hold up over the next few years.

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