A new Gallup poll shows Americans, by a 2-1 margin, are moving to the right politically and that shift could spell trouble for President Barack Obama and Democrats.
The shift comes in sharp contrast to the gains made by the Democratic party in 2008 and showcases the continued uneasiness of the American electorate.
"Conservatives currently outnumber liberals in the population, and thus, conservatism has a natural advantage on any question asking the public to choose between these standard ideological labels," the Gallup organization says in a special report posted on its web site.
The poll also confirms other signs that Obama’s popularity is fading and Americans are growing increasingly impatient at failures by the White House and Congress to deal with the economic crisis facing the nation.
Indeed, in the latest survey, 38% of Americans describe their political views as conservative, and among this group 58% say their views have grown more conservative in recent years. Although a large segment of liberals (42%) say they have become more liberal, far fewer Americans in the poll (18%) describe themselves as liberal — thus providing little counterweight to the rightward movement of conservatives. At the same time, political moderates are twice as likely to say they have grown more conservative as opposed to more liberal (33% vs. 18%), thus further tipping the scales in favor of conservatism.
The poll also suggests that Americans are not as dissatisfied with Republicans as the 2008 elections would suggest.
Which way do Americans want to be led? While the new Gallup Poll finds the public reporting a heightened sense of conservatism in its political outlook, Americans’ specific policy positions have not changed much since 2004. To the extent they have, about as many of these positions have become more liberal as more conservative.
Aside from the trends, Gallup’s recent polling from 2008-2009 indicates that a majority of Americans concur with the Republican Party’s general philosophy on the death penalty, defense spending, gay marriage, the role of government, environmental protection, and handgun legislation. Americans are about as likely to agree with the Republican Party’s general philosophy as they are to agree with the Democratic Party’s in terms of abortion, government activism, government promotion of "traditional" values, taxes, changing the power of labor unions, and certain aspects of the need for healthcare reform. They are more likely to agree with the Democratic Party’s philosophy on other aspects of healthcare reform, embryonic stem-cell research, government regulation of business, the Iraq war, and immigration.
The bottom line? Despite setbacks in 2006 and 2008, the Republican Party is far from dead and conservatisim is not only still alive and well in America, it is growing, but Americans are still split politically and there is support for both the right and the left, depending on the issue.
The poll also shows Americans want action, not rhetoric, and both Obama and the Democrats need to start delivering or American voters just may clean house again in 2010 and 2012.