The Battleground Poll and the vanishing moderate
By Bruce Walker
The percentage of Americans who describe themselves as conservative has remained over the last thirteen Battleground Polls around sixty percent. That is the biggest missing story in politics. A study of the archives of the Battleground Poll shows that this powerful conservative majority has been around since the question was first asked, in September 1996, twelve years ago. Fifty-seven percent of Americans, on the eve of re-electing Bill Clinton, considered themselves conservatives. In the twenty-two Battleground Polls since then, the clear conservative majority has never been lower than fifty-three percent and has gotten as high as sixty-two percent. The mean average over these dozen years has been 58.5% but over the last six and a half years, that percentage has averaged 59.9% - the sixty percent I mentioned in my previous article.
There is no way to tweak this number into something other than what it is. The respondents polled were different in each of these many polls. The options of "very conservative," "somewhat conservative," "very liberal," "somewhat liberal," "moderate," and "don't know / refused" has been available in every Battleground Poll since December 1997. Respondents have embraced the conservative label deliberately. More interestingly, the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as "very conservative" has risen steadily. Over the last several Battleground Polls, that percentage has been about twenty-one percent. At the beginning of the decade, only about sixteen percent of Americans in these polls identified themselves as very conservative.
While the overwhelming conservative majority in America is the biggest story in politics, the second biggest story is what happened to that middle of the spectrum which the Left is always telling us we should try to reach – the "moderate" voter. When Battleground first began asking respondents about their ideology (and why, we can only wonder, do other polling organizations not also routinely answer this crucial question? - maybe these other polling groups do, but choose not to publicize their findings), the only options were "conservative," "moderate," and "liberal." With those choices, the conservative majority was still huge at fifty-seven percent, but those Americans who waved the white flag of "moderate" was a significant thirteen percent. That is a voting bloc worth pursuing.
When Battleground added the category of "don't know / refused," then this group, when combined with the "moderate" stayed in that range. The moderate plus the refused/don't know actually rose to a high of sixteen percent of the respondents in January 2000 and it never fell below ten percent of the respondents in the nine Battleground Polls between September 1996 and April 2001. Within that combined total of moderate and refused/don't know, the moderate component stayed between thirteen percent and seven percent of the population. Moderates were much smaller than political pundits had pretended, but moderates could still be swing votes in many states or in many congressional districts.
Then, in the January 2002 Battleground Poll, the number of Americans who chose to call themselves "moderate" dropped to three percent. In the Battleground Polls since then, the self-described moderates has never been higher than four percent; it has been as low as one percent; and it has averaged just about two percent of the population, or just exactly what it was in the August 2008 Battleground Poll. What happened?
The percentage of self-identified conservatives from the April 2001 poll to the January 2002 poll jumped from a low-point of fifty-three percent in April 2001 to a high-point in January 2002 of sixty-one percent, and it has stayed in that range ever since. The percentage of Americans who chose to call themselves moderate collapsed to a tiny, almost invisible number and that percentage has stayed in that range ever since. Ever since…what?
The answer, of course, is ever since our "Pearl Harbor" when murderous Moslem terrorists decided to attack us for being us. Americans understand, even if establishment punditry does not, that after September 11, 2001 a "moderate" fight for survival did not make much sense. The pathological Left – those who after seventy years of Leftist failure in America still want to whack us over the head with self-hatred and ghastly policy failures – stayed pretty much the same before and after 9-11. The hopelessly masochistic Left remains at disturbingly high levels, about thirty-five percent of the population, but the Left is hopelessly outnumbered in any election or other face to face conflict in the cultural, political, or social war for America, and our Pearl Harbor had no apparent affect on this irrational and angry sub-population of American society. People who honestly thought that Democrat-run election offices in Florida were somehow tricked into electing President Bush continued to believe any lie, any invention, and any surreal dream which helped their addiction to venom.
But millions of Americans were moved, permanently, after September 11, 2001 to become self-described conservatives. They threw down the clean, white flags with which they had been trying so long to persuade evil in the world to let us live in peace and these millions of ex-moderates joined the majority of conservative Americans who had given up that futile hope decades ago. Only the terminally indecisive could stay on the ideological sidelines after September 11. Leftists remained just as crazy. Conservatives remained just as resolute. And moderates shrank to almost nothing. The case for those who love America is clear: There are no ideological sidelines any longer. The world, including the world of our own citizenry, is divided into those who love America and our American way of life and to those who worship at the church of Jeremiah Wright, even after September 11, 2001. There are no moderates any more. (Special thanks to Brian Nienaber, Vice President of The Tarrance Group, for his assistance in researching this article)
Bruce Walker, a contributing editor for Enter Stage Right, is the author of two books. His latest book is The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity and his first book was Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie.