We wrote an extended piece, available at AlterNet and Salon, on a new poll funded by Esquire magazine and NBC News which claims to have discovered the existence of something called “the New American Center.” The methodology is flawed, the questions are biased, and the interpretation is dubious.
This is not the first time that Esquire magazine has fanned the flames of intergenerational hostility were targeted the American social contract from a “centrist” ideological perspective. The word “centrism” is placed in quotes because the real center of public opinion is very different from the one depicted in narratives like the one laid out in this survey.
This survey reflects an ideological bias toward a particular brand of economic conservatism and social liberalism which seems popular among Wall Street and corporate leaders. But more reliable polling data than this survey hows conclusively that the economic consensus held by many political leaders, as well as prosperous and influential opinion leaders, is far more supportive of strengthening the social contract (including Social Security and Medicare) and corporate taxation.
The piece discusses the flaws in the study itself, the hyping of it by consultants and journalists, and my experience taking the online “Are you in the American Center?” test.