Posted December 22, 2008 | 06:54 PM (EST)
As the country went to the polls this past fall, the meme that America is a "center-right" country surged. Between the last week of October and the first week of November, the number of times that phrase appeared in the print and broadcast outlets tracked by Nexis grew an astonishing 168%.
While Republicans used those words' sudden currency to clamp a ceiling on the meaning of Obama's victory, Democrats fought back with myth-busting poll results about the political parties that Americans identify with, and about peoples' positions on campaign issues.
I have some data to add to that debate, and it drives a final stake into the center-right talking-point.
In August 2008, instead of asking people what party they're for, or which candidate's positions they agreed with, we - the Norman Lear Center and Zogby International - asked a scientific sample of adults to look at 21 pairs of statements. Each pair dug down to core political values. Each pair had a red (or conservative) answer and a blue (or liberal) answer.
What did we find out?