By: Jeffrey Klein
Political Buzz Examiner
In mid-April Pew Research surveyed 3,008 adults in the 14th such survey of their American Values Study, which began in 1987, which was designed to identify changes and track trends of American’s 48 basic beliefs–and it reveals why Congress has been “gridlocked.”
The study shows that the values gap between gender, age, race or class divides, including those who are more or less religious, and those with more and less education have remained stable over the past 25 years–however, the values gap between Republicans and Democrats has nearly doubled, rising sharply from 10 to 18 points on average.
The take away is that Americans have become polarized, or more “hard-lined,” in terms of their respective political ideologies, most of it occurring over the past decade beginning with the presidency of George W. Bush–but with fully half of the increase added during President Barack Obama’s first term.
Although both political parties have lost membership, they have become more ideologically homogeneous, with Conservatives outnumbering moderates by two-to-one in the Republican party, while there are now as many liberal Democrats as moderate Democrats, which translates to a hardened resolve on both sides in Congress.
While the two primary parties lost membership during this same time period, it seemed to accrue to the number of Independent voters, which have grown–but, a plurality of Independents (43%) describe their views as Moderate, followed by 30% who are Conservative, and 22% who are Liberal.
At present, according to Rasmussen Reports June 1, 2012 poll of 15,000 adults, Republicans now account for 35.7%, Democrats 33.8% and Independents 30.5% of the likely voter pool–with the Republican ranks growing since 2010 at the expense of the Democrat party.
But the story doesn’t end there, as evidence in the Pew poll indicates that the polarization extends also to independents, most of whom lean toward one of the two parties, such that when the definition of the party bases is extended to include these leaning independents, their average values gap also doubled between 1987 and 2012.
The study goes on to observe that in the 2012 election, the scope and role of government in the economic realm is the basis for the largest divides between the committed supporters of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Now, as the economy, jobs, trillion dollar budget deficits and the spiraling $16.52 trillion dollar national debt are the prime concern of the majority of the voters in November 2012, it would appear that Mitt Romney has the statistical upper hand–and he does, according to Rasmussen Reports May 15, 2012 survey of 1,000 “Likely Voters,” who favor Romney by 51% versus 39% who chose Barack Obama, with a 3 +/- point margin of error.
Supporting this finding is another Rasmussen survey from May 20, 2012, where “64% of ‘Likely Voters’ prefer a government with fewer services and lower taxes over one with more services and higher taxes, which is unchanged from last month and consistent with findings in regular surveys since late 2006. This is the hallmark of the Conservative fiscal platform.
Just 25% prefer a government with more services and higher taxes–such as the “Buffet Rule,” which is the hallmark of the Democrat party.
As to tax cuts specifically, like the famous “Bush [Era] Tax Cuts” that are due to expire at the end of the year, a May 24, 2012 Rasmussen poll shows that 53% of Likely U.S. Voters now say tax cuts help the economy–right in line with the Conservative fiscal platform too.
Only 22% say tax cuts hurt the economy–which is the Team Obama chant.
According to “Likely Voters” Romney’s advantage is already spilling over into battle ground states, where Romney leads or ties Obama, like Indiana 48-42, Ohio 46-44, Nebraska 53-49, North Carolina 51-43, and Virginia 47-47, with Wisconsin coming quickly into play.
It’s looking a lot like Game, Set, Match for Gov. Mitt Romney in November.