Despite all the blathering in the media about the death of ‘conservatism’ (especially in light of recent major gains by liberal politicians), a recent Gallup poll finds that the single largest ideological group between liberals, conservatives, and moderates is—surprise—conservatives. I have said a number of times that the population of the United States averages ‘center-right’, and the Gallup poll perfectly reflects this. According to Gallup, 9 percent are ‘very conservative’, 31 percent are ‘conservative’, 35 percent are ‘moderate’, 16 percent are ‘liberal’, and 5 percent are ‘very liberal’.
The fringes, left and right combined, account for only 14 percent of the population. Center-left (half of the moderates and the ‘liberals’) account for 33.5 percent of the population, while center-right (half of the moderates and the ‘conservatives’) account for 48.5 percent.
It’s easy to dismiss the ideals of conservatism—limited government, fiscal conservatism, traditional values, etc.—because of the trouncing of Republicans in the 2008 elections, but to do so would be to mis-read the situation. Yes, Republicans were slaughtered in the election across the board. But Republicans, under President George W. Bush, have hardly been acting like conservatives lately. Government spending grew under Bush. The country ran huge deficits under Bush. There was little movement in support of traditional values under Bush. The list goes on.
John McCain’s presidential campaign didn’t collapse because of conservatism; on the contrary, his campaign collapsed when he became a cheerleader for the socialist bailout plans of Bush and the Democratic Congress (look back at the poll tracking if you don’t believe me). Independent conservatives like myself—people who vote based on values, not party affiliation—were appalled that our choices were between a Democrat (Obama) who supported implementing an interventionist, socialist economic policy, and a Republican (McCain) supporting the exact same thing. We didn’t have a candidate to really support, just a ‘lesser of two evils’.
I’m convinced that most Americans think our economic policy is going the wrong way. It started going the wrong way under Bush, and Obama has simply accelerated the insanity. Real conservative candidates can leverage this deep-seated public anger and sweep back into power in the coming elections, but we’re not going to vote blindly for a candidate just because they have an ‘R’ after their name.