Paul Krugman writes,
I read a lot of polls, and they suggest that the center of public opinion on the issues is, if anything, left of the center of the Democratic Party.
Is this true? Here is a graph based on National Election Study data from 2004. Each dot represents where a survey respondent places him or herself on economic and social issues: positive numbers are conservative and negative numbers are liberal, and “B” and “K” represent the voters’ average placements of Bush and Kerry on these scales:
Most voters tend to place themselves to the right of the Democrats on economic and on social issues, and most voters tend to place themselves to the left of the Republicans in both dimensions. (See here for more about our research on this topic; the Annals of Applied Statistics article is here.) Just to be clear: I’m talking about survey questions asking people on their opinions on various issues and policies, not about self-identified liberalism or conservatism.
This makes me wonder what the basis was of Krugman’s comment above. It possibly arises from choices of which issues to include in measuring public opinion, or maybe how you define the “center of the Democratic Party,” or maybe changes between 2004 and 2007? I dunno, though, because Joe Bafumi and Michael Herron found something similar to what we found, that the average Democratic congressmember was to the left of the average voter, and the average Republican was to the right. I’d be interested to see Krugman’s data in order to resolve the discrepancy.