Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Ruy Teixeira is one of the best analysts of American politics today. But in his recent web piece on the LA Times Poll he errs in his analysis of moderate voters. According to Teixeira:

"DR has commented a number of times recently on how disaffected independent voters seem to be with Bush and his policies. The breakouts provided by The Los Angeles Times from their most recent poll provide a window on another electoral group that’s disaffected—really disaffected—with Bush and his policies. This one’s a moose of a group, moderate voters, who constituted 50 percent of the voters in the 2000 election."

Moderate voters are, to be sure, a big part of the electorate, but according to the LA Times polling people (I called them on the phone), moderates only made up 32 percent of the poll respondents. Liberals were 25 percent and conservatives were 40 percent (the other three percent didn't give their ideology). As a result, the shift in moderates Teixeira comments on has less of an impact than he suggests. Furthermore, he's right that on a number of important issues, such as right track/wrong track, Bush "understands people like me," and approval of Bush's handling of Iraq, moderates are heavily against Bush. But on a number of other important questions, moderates are split or lean in a Bush/Republican direction. For example, on Bush' job approval, moderates approve by a 49-45 margin. On whether they like or dislike Bush as a person, moderates like him by a 67-26 margin. On approval of Bush's handling of the war on terrorism, moderates approve by a margin of 56-35. Moderates agree that Bush is a strong leader 62-30, and consider him "honest and trustworthy," 52-34.

Whether these questions are more or less important than the ones cited by Teixeira is open to debate. The point is that Bush is in a much stronger position than many analysts, including Teixeira, suggest.

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