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#3706576 - 07/10/14 08:07 AM Moderate voters are a myth
Crappie Luck Moderator
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A very interesting study into the myth of the moderate voter

There is no creature more revered in American politics than the moderate voter. Unlike the ideologues and partisans destroying politics, the moderate is free of cant and independent of party. She yearns for politicians who get along, who govern reasonably and incrementally, who steer a course between the extremes of the left and the right. The problem with Washington is that her pleas so often go unheard.

The only problem is moderates are largely a statistical myth

The only problem is moderates are largely a statistical myth — and efforts to empower them may, accidentally, lead to the rise of more extreme candidates.

The statistical mistake behind the myth of the moderates

What happens, explains David Broockman, a political scientist at the University of California at Berkeley, is that surveys mistake people with diverse political opinions for people with moderate political opinions. The way it works is that a pollster will ask people for their position on a wide range of issues: marijuana legalization, the war in Iraq, universal health care, gay marriage, taxes, climate change, and so on. The answers will then be coded as to whether they're left or right. People who have a mix of answers on the left and the right average out to the middle — and so they're labeled as moderate.

"These people look like moderates but they're actually quite extreme"

But when you drill down into those individual answers you find a lot of opinions that are well out of the political mainstream. "A lot of people say we should have a universal health-care system run by the state like the British," says Broockman. "A lot of people say we should deport all undocumented immigrants immediately with no due process. You'll often see really draconian measures towards gays and lesbians get 16 to 20 percent support. These people look like moderates but they're actually quite extreme."

The result is that voters who hold gentle opinions that are all on the left or the right end up looking a lot more extreme than voters who hold intense opinions that fall all over the political spectrum. Broockman offers this table as illustration:



Digging into a 134-issue survey, Broockman and coauthor Doug Ahler find that 70.1 percent of all respondents, and 71.3 percent of self-identified moderates, took at least one position outside the political mainstream. Moderates, in other words, are just as likely as anyone else to hold extreme positions: it's just that those positions don't all line up on the left or the right.

these voters don't want moderate candidates because these voters aren't actually moderates

For Ahler and Broockman, this solves a puzzle. They note that many states have implemented election reforms to wrest the process away from partisans and empower average voters to elect the moderate politicians they really want. These reforms include open primary elections, nonpartisan redistricting, and public funding of elections. But "the bulk of studies on these reforms finds little evidence that they improve moderate candidates' fortunes."

The answer, Ahler and Brookman realize, is simple: these voters don't want moderate candidates because these voters aren't actually moderates.

What moderates want is often extreme

In a draft paper, they prove this through a battery of surveys and experiments testing whether people want a candidate who agrees with them on the issues or a candidate who is described as moderate. Unsurprisingly, they want the candidate who agrees with them on the issues. For that reason, Broockman says, "It's just not clear that empowering average voters will help moderate politicians win."

There's even reason to believe "average voters" — which is to say, less politically engaged voters — hold more extreme opinions: engaged Democrats and Republicans tend to adopt the positions held by their parties, and parties tend to adopt positions that are popular, achievable and workable. So voters who follow their parties end up pushing ideas in the political mainstream. Voters who aren't as interested in politics and who don't attach themselves to a party push the ideas they actually like, irrespective of whether they're popular or could attract 60 votes in the Senate or would be laughed at by policy experts.

The other problem is that the term "moderate" makes it sound like there's one kind of moderate — which is where the idea emerges that there's some silent moderate majority out there waiting for their chance to take back politics. But someone who believes in punitively taxing the rich and criminalizing homosexuality is not going to form a coalition with someone who believes in low taxes and gay marriage, even though both of these voters would look moderate on a survey.

The deeper point here is that the idea of the moderate middle is bullshIt

The deeper point here is that the idea of the moderate middle is bullshit: it's a rhetorical device meant to marginalize some policy positions at the expense of others. There's no actual way to measure it, or consistent definition animating it, and it doesn't spontaneously emerge in any of the data.

"Moderate" as a political weapon

In one of their paper's most interesting sections, Ahler and Broockman look at the results of a survey that gave people seven policy options that ranged from extremely liberal to extremely conservative on 12 different issues.



"On only two of the 13 issues — environmental/energy policy and gay rights — is the truly centrist response the modal preference," they write. "This equals the number of issues on which the modal preference is one of the outside-the-mainstream policies."

On marijuana, the single most popular positions was full legalization. On immigration, it was "the immediate roundup and deportation of all undocumented immigrants and an outright moratorium on all immigration until the border is proven secure." So are these positions really the moderate ones? Or is the moderate position discovered through some process of averaging out the poll results? Or is the moderate position just the one espoused by people in power — because, after all, that's where a lot of survey respondents are taking their cues from.

"When we say moderate what we really mean is what corporations want"

"When we say moderate what we really mean is what corporations want," Broockman says. "Within both parties there is this tension between what the politicians who get more corporate money and tend to be part of the establishment want — that's what we tend to call moderate — versus what the Tea Party and more liberal members want."

That's the problem with using a term that doesn't describe either an identifiable group of voters or a clearly defined ideology to describe policies. "Moderate" is simultaneously one of the most powerful and least meaningful descriptions in politics — and it's become little more than a tool the establishment uses to set limits on the range of acceptable debate. It's time to get rid of it.

http://www.vox.com/2014/7/8/5878293/lets-stop-using-the-word-moderate
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#3706587 - 07/10/14 08:17 AM Re: Moderate voters are a myth [Re: Crappie Luck]
Wildcat
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Then explain one thing.

How come a large part of the voters vote either way in different elections?? Look at the number of voters that voted for Carter then look at Reagans two elections. There is NO WAY the " extremes" switched in such numbers. If they did then it's also true that the ultra conservatives voted FOR Obama in large enough numbers to help him win.

OR

The number of ultra conservatives stayed home in enough numbers in enough states to allow Obama to win BOTH times.

OR

It shows that the number of ultra conservatives numbers are much, much smaller than most people believe.

Sorry but that study is a BS study, the same thing the liberals push out as serious studies like Climate Change studies.
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#3706591 - 07/10/14 08:25 AM Re: Moderate voters are a myth [Re: Wildcat]
Crappie Luck Moderator
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 Quote:
It shows that the number of ultra conservatives numbers are much, much smaller than most people believe.


Or, as the study tries to explain, many people labeled "Ultra conservative" are not, and many labeled "Moderate" are actually quite conservative (or liberal).

This study has nothing to do with election results. It's about the misleading demographic political landscape of the country on specific issues.
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#3706680 - 07/10/14 10:32 AM Re: Moderate voters are a myth [Re: Crappie Luck]
sgtwebb1
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In this case, I think the Democrats succeeded in rallying their base (extreme left wing voters) AND got many of the miNorities who normally don't vote, to vote. Both times.
Meanwhile, the GOP candidate was lukewarm and bland (to say the least) in BOTH elections against Obama, and voters stayed away in droves. Perfect setup for the Dems.

Maybe this time around, they'll have a lukewarm candidate, and we'll have a real Conservative on the ticket.

And maybe pigs will fly.
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#3706681 - 07/10/14 10:35 AM Re: Moderate voters are a myth [Re: sgtwebb1]
Crappie Luck Moderator
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 Originally Posted By: sgtwebb1

And maybe pigs will fly.


Well, I haven't really kept up with HIllary's book tour schedule. Where is she scheduled to land this time?

\:D
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#3706682 - 07/10/14 10:39 AM Re: Moderate voters are a myth [Re: Crappie Luck]
AndyW
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 Originally Posted By: Crappie Luck
 Originally Posted By: sgtwebb1

And maybe pigs will fly.


Well, I haven't really kept up with HIllary's book tour schedule. Where is she scheduled to land this time?

\:D


He shoots, he scores!!!! \:D
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#3706683 - 07/10/14 10:39 AM Re: Moderate voters are a myth [Re: Crappie Luck]
Crappie Luck Moderator
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But the article is not about how people vote. It's about the "Moderate" on middle ground that we so often hear is the majority.

That "Majority" is largely non-exsistant. The population is very divided on issues with very few actually in that segment that the majority of both parties (but mostly the GOP) tries to cater to - "The mushy middle"

The only relevance this study has to elections is possibly the repeated mistake of the GOP running a 'Moderate" candidate.

After reading this article you'll see that these GOPe candidates appeal to NO ONE - Not the left, not the right and there really is no middle to speak of.

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#3706684 - 07/10/14 10:39 AM Re: Moderate voters are a myth [Re: Crappie Luck]
sgtwebb1
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I sorry less about Hillary every day.
I swear I think she's not going to run.
And if she does, good.
I think there's enough dislike of her to turn out a lot of conservative voters, even if Mitt Romney is the GOP guy again.
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#3706692 - 07/10/14 10:45 AM Re: Moderate voters are a myth [Re: sgtwebb1]
sgtwebb1
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I agree with the article.
Voters are more polarized now than ever.
The media are the ones that desperately want there to be a "moderate" or better yet,
"swing voters".
Not since the first Reagan election has such a force of voters been a factor in a national election.
The media need it as taking points to get ratings.
Pretty much everyone knows where they stand on the issues, And the issues are not Moderate at all.
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