Don’t let 30,000 Delaware teabaggers fool you. America has not shifted to the right.
The latest New York Times/CBS poll shows that whatever frustrations votes have with the President and Congress, it has not prompted a shift towards anti-government conservatism.
The poll asked if “Barack Obama has expanded the role of government too much, not enough, or about the right amount?”
Only 37% said government has been expanded “too much.” While 56% said government has been expanded “the right amount” or “not enough.”
Similarly, only 34% of respondents said the “stimulus package” was “too large.” The rest of respondents were split between “about right” and “not large enough.”
That is in line with the basic ideological composition of the nation, which has barely budged in years. This poll has 36% of Americans describing themselves as “conservative,” 40% saying “moderate” and 19% “liberal.”
As you can deduce from the above numbers: it’s only the conservative minority that believes government has grown too big under President Obama.
Moderates and liberals in the progressive majority may have their disagreements, but they do not disagree fundamentally on the basic need for active government.
No question there is dissatisfaction with Democratic performance to date. Approval of congressional Democrats is at 30%. And the same exact low number of people say the stimulus has “made the economy better.”
But approval of congressional Republicans is even lower: 20%. Americans believe President Obama is doing more to help the economy than Republicans by a wide margin: 48% to 28%.
Frustrations with Democrats have simply not sparked any ideological shift or turn against active government.
Most likely, the failures of conservatism are too fresh in the public mind for people to want to go back. Further, conservatives have not only refused to accept responsibility for their failed policies, they have doubled down on them.
That’s not a prediction of what may happen in November. Voters may still punish Democrats in power by voting for “the other guy,” allowing Republicans to reap big congressional gains.
But if that happens, there’s nothing in the poll data to suggest such a victory would be mandate for a return to ant-government conservatism.