One of the main purposes of propaganda is to discourage the opposition. Make them think that their cause is hopeless. In military terminology this is part of what’s known as “information warfare.” In the domestic political sphere this masquerades as “news.”
The “news”—or fake news—onslaught has been constant this year. Every venue of the “mainstream” media has been filled with stories depicting the increasing hopelessness of President Trump’s bid for reelection, and with it the Republican and conservative causes. With the constant 24/7 barrage of this propaganda, Trump supporters, Republicans, and conservatives have every reason to be discouraged.
At first glance, the venerable Gallup Poll’s latest survey of American political leanings seems to fit perfectly in this pattern. It starts with the headline: “U.S. Conservatism Down Since Start of 2020.” The slant throughout the article reinforces the message of that headline.
But here is what’s interesting: Technically that headline is undoubtedly correct. Conservatism has taken a hit since the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown that has resulted in the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression. But the individual findings in the Gallup survey point to a much more nuanced and balanced conclusion. The Leftists (i.e., the Democrats) are in no great shape, either, and what happens in November is still an open question. The game isn’t over.
Let me explain at the start that I place no faith at all in the election polls pitting Biden versus Trump. We know how wrong those polls were in 2016, and the difficulties of predicting the presidential horse race are even greater today. I simply ignore those election polls.
“Attitude” or ideological surveys, however, such as the ones conducted by Gallup and Pew Research, are a little more informative. People are more likely to answer questions honestly about their general political orientation than about who they plan to vote for.
The big problem with these ideological surveys is one of definitions. What is a “conservative” or a “liberal”? There are no precise definitions, and every person has their own definitions for those terms. Still, the cumulative answers tell us something about how citizens and voters think about themselves. And that’s a start.
With all these caveats, I suggest that you take a detailed look at the survey.
Deconstructing the Gallup Survey
The article explains that “Gallup measures Americans’ ideology by asking respondents to describe their overall political views as either very conservative, conservative, moderate, liberal or very liberal.”
This July 27 release states that “34% in the U.S. identify as conservative, down from 40% in February.” But, as Paul Harvey used to say, let’s look at “the rest of the story.”
*Despite all the news since the beginning of the year that should be helping the Left, the percentage of Americans who identify as “liberal” has increased only modestly—from 22% in January/February to 26% in May/June. With the pandemic, George Floyd protests, and collapse of the economy, that’s an extremely modest increase.
*Note that “conservatives” still outnumber “liberals” 34% to 26%. The biggest ideological group today consists of “moderates”—another very unsatisfactory term. A more likely depiction of this group might be “disgusted” or “none of the above.” And note that at 35%-36%, this group is only slightly larger than the number of Americans who describe themselves as “conservative.” (The percentage of “moderates” has remained steady since the beginning of the year.)
*Despite all the talk about women deserting conservatism and the GOP, the decline is virtually identical between men (-6%) and women (-5%). Note that the decline of conservative identification has actually been 1% higher among men.
*Similarly, the decline in party identification has been virtually identical between Republicans (-4%) and Democrats (-3%).
*Even among non-Hispanic black Americans, considered the racial group most loyal to the Democrats, almost as many identify as “conservative” (22%) as “liberal” (28%). Almost as many blacks identify as “moderates” (47%) as liberals and conservatives combined.
*And Hispanic Americans actually are one of the few groups that identify more as “conservative” (31%) than “liberal” (30%), with 35% identifying as “moderate.”
What Does This Mean?
The events this year should have been devastating for conservatives and Republicans. The results certainly have not been good, but the ideological fallout has been far less extensive than advertised by the leftist propaganda organs. With a solid, disciplined message, conservatives and Republicans should be able to recover their losses. That biggest group—the “moderates”—can be swayed. They are not liberals, much less leftists. Conservatives can demonstrate how the Democratic Party has been captured by the extreme Left, and why the Republicans are a more logical home for these “moderates.”
Even Gallup, despite its headline, feels compelled to hedge its bets: “What 2020 has shown is that political ideology is not a fixed construct, but one that can quickly shift with the political or economic winds…. With more economic and political news ahead in the second half of the year, Americans’ attachment to these labels could change yet again.” And: “That could affect how voters react to candidates running on the label [conservative] in November.”
This is especially true when we look at the two groups that could make the difference in November—blacks and Hispanics.
Blacks have the most to lose from the Democrats’ campaign to defund and downsize the police, since the crime that devastates their inner-city neighborhoods is overwhelming black-on-black, not police-vs.-blacks. This is why the main opposition to New York City Mayor de Blasio’s campaign to defund the police is coming from city politicians representing black neighborhoods and constituencies—a pattern also noticed in other Democrat-run big cities. Rebellion against the liberal Democrat plantation is in the air.
The opportunities for conservatives and Republicans are even greater when it comes to the much larger minority group, Hispanics. They are culturally conservative on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and religion, and are highly entrepreneurial in their aspirations. Texas has demonstrated that with the right approach, Republicans can get as much of their vote as the Democrats.
Furthermore, who has been hurt the most by the Democrat governors’ and mayors’ lockdowns? Blacks and Hispanics, along with young people and less affluent whites. With a disciplined campaign that makes jobs a major issue, showing how Democrats want to extend the lockdowns to 2021, all of those groups are fodder for the Republicans.
Drain their black and Hispanic support and the Democrats are toast in November.