Cross-posted from Epic Journey:
New Gallup data suggest that it is an oversimplification to speak of a rightward or leftward shift in public opinion:
Despite the results of the 2008 presidential election, Americans, by a 2-to-1 margin, say their political views in recent years have become more conservative rather than more liberal, 39% to 18%, with 42% saying they have not changed. While independents and Democrats most often say their views haven't changed, more members of all three major partisan groups indicate that their views have shifted to the right rather than to the left....Given the stark differences between the current political scene and the one surrounding the 2004 elections, 2004 represents a good comparison point for this analysis. Not only was there a five-point drop between 2004 and 2008 (from 51% to 46%) in the popular vote for the Republican presidential candidate, but there has been a similar drop (from 45% in 2004 to 40% in 2008 and 39% in 2009) in the percentage affiliating themselves with the Republican Party.
Have Americans' positions on major cultural, social, and policy issues shifted left accordingly? A broad review of the available trends suggests not. However, they have not shifted solidly right either, countering Americans' claims in the new poll that they have grown more conservative.