Is America still a center-right country? The data point to America as solidly centrist. This issue of Political Report examines self-reported ideological identification of adults and voters over time, views on social issues, attitudes on moral issues, and opinions on the role of government. It also explore whether the Republican brand is damaged and presents some closing data points on the 2012 election. Here are some highlights:
• The number of liberals in the electorate reached an all-time high in 2012 (25 percent), and the number of conservatives came very close to the all-time high point (36 percent in 1984 and 35 percent in 2012). Yet, Moderates still make up the largest segment of the vote.
• On economic issues, 46 percent of Americans identify as conservative, while 20 percent say they are liberal. On social issues, 38 percent say they are conservative while 28 percent say they are liberal.
• In recent surveys on issues such as gay marriage, Americans have moved in a more liberal direction on the policy questions, even as they say that for them personally, the behavior is morally wrong. Half believe that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized as valid, while 52 percent believe sex between two adults of the same gender is morally wrong.
• Most Americans have long embraced social welfare programs for the poor as an important government responsibility. In a fall 2012 Public Religion Research Institute poll, 63 percent agreed that government policies aimed at helping the poor serve as a critical safety net.
• Republicans have lost the popular vote for president in five of the past six elections. Current poll responses show a GOP deficit as well. In October, 44 percent said they had negative feelings about the Republican Party, and 39 percent said they had positive ones.
• Satisfaction with the candidates in 2012 was high, and voters felt they learned enough during the campaign to make an informed choice. Two-thirds said the debates were helpful.