On Issue After Issue, Americans Support the Democratic/Progressive Position

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    I feel like a broken record on this, but I keep hearing offhand comments about how this is really a “center-right country,” or how most Americans are not progressives, or how today’s Democratic Party (centrist or even center-right by historical standards, let alone by the standards of other developed countries) is “super liberal,” “socialist,” blah blah blah.

    In reality, of course, America today has a centrist party (the Democrats), a hard-right party (the Republicans), and an right-wing extremist rump “party” (the “Tea Party”). In stark contrast, European countries generally have a wide political spectrum from far left (Communist) to left (Socialist) to center-left (Social Democrats) to center-right (Christian Democrats) to right-wing extremist (the National Front, UKIP). Of course, even the center-right parties in Europe generally favor clean energy, unions, universal health care, strict gun control, etc. – totally different than here in the U.S. With that, let’s take a look at the most recent polling, courtesy of PollingReport.com, to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the American people support a long line of progressive policies, and pretty much no conservative policies to speak of.

    It’s also worth noting that those of us who write at this blog – including “Teddy Roosevelt Progressives” like me, who grew up basically a progressive Republican in the Jacob Javits/Lowell Weicker/John Chaffee mode – are in the (strong) majority on basically everything. No, it doesn’t fit the stereotype of right wingers out there, or the corporate media which loves its “both sides” false equivalencies. But it nonetheless remains a factual statement.

    *Global Warming: By a 58%-30% margin, Americans believe that “the federal government should limit the release of greenhouse gases from existing power plants.”

    *EPA Carbon Rules: By a 67%-29% margin, Americans support the EPA setting “strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants with a goal to reduce emissions significantly by the year 2030.”

    *Clean Energy/Dirty Energy: By a 59%-31% margin, Americans support “alternative energy” over “oil, gas and coal.” By a 41%-31% margin, Americans believe we should put LESS emphasis on coal, compared to 76%-10% who believe we should put MORE emphasis on solar and 71%-12% who say we should put MORE emphasis on wind.

    *Gun Laws: By a 92%-7% margin, Americans support “requiring background checks for all gun buyers.” By a 54%-9% margin, Americans believe that “laws covering the sale of guns should be made more strict” as opposed to “less strict.”  By a 63%-34% margin, Americans OPPOSE more “teachers and school officials having guns in schools.” By a 54%-42% margin, Americans support a “ban on assault-style weapons.” Etc, etc.

    *Obamacare: 40% favor it and 17% oppose it because it’s not liberal enough, for a combined 57% who support Obamacare or want it to go (much) further. Only 38% oppose it because it’s “too liberal.”

    *Same-Sex Marriage: By a 56%-38% margin, Americans support “allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally.”

    *Abortion: 40% say abortion should be legal “always” or “in most circumstances,” with another 38% saying it should be legal in “a few circumstances.” Just 20% say it should be “always illegal.”

    *Contraception: Americans overwhelmingly support contraception access, including a 53%-41% margin saying that “employers who object to birth control and other contraceptives on religious grounds…should not be exempt from the requirement that their health plans cover prescription birth control.”

    *Immigration: Only 22% of Americans favor deportation of “immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. illegally.” In contrast, 58% of Americans support “allow[ing] them a way to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements.” By a 65%-31% margin, Americans support the bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate and being held up by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that “llowed foreigners staying illegally in the United States the opportunity to eventually become legal American citizens if they pay a fine, any back taxes, pass a security background check, and take other required steps.”

    *Minimum Wage: By a 71%-28% margin, Americans overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage.

    *Social Security: By a 73%-21% margin, Americans “think the benefits from Social Security are worth the cost of the program for taxpayers.” And by a 51%-37% margin, Americans OPPOSE “hanging the way Social Security benefits are calculated so that benefits increase at a slower rate than they do now.”

    *Labor Unions: By a 54%-39% margin, Americans approve of labor unions.

    *Campaign Financing: By huge margins, Americans support ” limiting the amount of money individuals can contribute to political campaigns” (71%-25%), and limiting spending by “groups not affiliated with a candidate” (76%-22%).

    Also see GOP’s 30-year spin job is over: Why we are not a center-right nation for a few more interesting poll results.

    *”69 percent of Americans oppose any cuts to Social Security or Medicare, even in order to cut the deficit, while only 23 percent support such cuts.

    *”Between 60 percent and 80 percent of Americans support increasing taxes on the wealthy.”

    *”58 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, while only 39 percent support continued criminalization.”

    *”62 percent of Americans support the Paycheck Fairness Act – which seeks to close the gender-based wage gap – while only 29 percent of Americans oppose the act.”

    *” 66 percent of Americans support stronger EPA air regulations, 72 percent support stronger carbon-emission.”

    Bottom line: on issue after issue after issue, progressives aren’t just in the majority, but the LARGE majority in most cases. Conservatives, on issue after issue after issue, are not just in the minority, but in the small minority in most cases. Which raises the question yet again, how do conservatives ever win elections? For that, see books like “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” and movies like Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story. In short, it’s about the Republicans relentlessly (and skillfully, and with huge amounts of money) preying on resentment, fear, anger, ignorance, and intolerance. Also note that the corporate media has, for years, completely failed to do its job of reporting the truth. Instead, they have been bullied by loud and belligerent right wingers into “reporting” false equivalency nonsense on issue after issue (e.g., there are NOT “two sides” to climate science). Other than that, it seems to me, we would have had all the policies listed above, supported by strong majorities of the American people, a long time ago.

    • Charles Stanton

      Americans agree with the Democrats and yet somehow many continue to vote for the Republicans.

      Quite the disconnect!

    • Matt_H

      Incumbents, from both parties feed at the same trough – I’m still waiting for my electeds to join the fight to erase money from politics.  Perhaps it’s a tough legal fight, but certainly they can call their opponents to the mat on who their benefactors include.  

      Taking money out of the equation would go a long way in making our politicians more accountable to the wishes of the electorate.  Our government would also get a lot cleaner and more transparent.  

      For example, labor unions and the rights of workers to collectively exert their power, will always be given a back seat as long as the corporations can (and do) buy off the candidates.  Kaine and Warner can never push bills that move the ball forward for union workers, when most of their major contributors are vehemently anti-union.  Recall that Kaine, as governor, actually stated on the record that he “strongly supports the state’s right-to-work law.”  The same analysis goes for the clean energy, etc.  

      Money, is the lifeblood of Dem.s and R’s alike, and those in power will concede nothing.  

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      We all recognize that one problem Democrats have is motivating their base to vote in each and every election. The Republican base is far whiter and older than the Democratic base. Those voters always vote in larger numbers than the rest of the population. When the diverse Democratic electorate rouses itself and votes in percentages near those of the GOP electorate, we win every time. Unfortunately, it usually is only in presidential election years.

      There finally seems to be a slight awakening among some of the occasional Democratic voters that every election is important. It remains to be seen if that will actually be enough to save the Democratic majority in the Senate or to make gains in state elections.

    • kindler

      The recent study showing that public opinion has very little influence on actual policies should have been an enormous wake up call.

      If we don’t fight to reclaim this democracy of ours, we’re going to lose it. Bit by bit…

    • Andy Schmookler

      Thanks, Lowell, for presenting this polling data, with all these instances of the Republicans thwarting the will of the American people.

      Months ago, Rachel Maddow did a segment that showed this same phenomenon with regard to five or six issues. Even majorities of Republicans favored measures on these issues that the Republicans in Congress were nonetheless preventing from being enacted.

      Later, I decided that I wanted to do something with that information– but my googling efforts to find that segment were unsuccessful.

      Now here it all is, and more. Thanks.