The “cover story” in yesterday’s USA Today, which I read only when offered no other choice by a hotel in which I’m staying, was its poll that found that slightly more people are left of center than right of center.
The middle of the front page of the paper is dominated by a pie chart with five wedges, each of which represents one of five types of voters. Each wedge has a photo of an attractive person who represents the voters in the wedge. The wedges, that is, types of voters, include:
- Religious right – 17%
- Tea Party tendencies – 22%
- In the middle – 17%
- Obama liberals – 24%
- Bigger (government) is better – 20%
Susan Page, the USA Today reporter who wrote the story, neglected to do the math, so I’ll do it for her: When you add together the right of center wedges you get 39%. When you add together the left of center wedges you get 44%.
In other words, about 5% more Americans consider themselves to be left of center than right of center.
I don’t know this poll, but for most surveys, the average margin of difference is quite small, 3-5%. At the very worst, equal numbers of Americans are left and right of center, and it’s possible that the real difference is 8% or even 10%!
Page spent most of the article talking about the answer to another poll question showing that 6 in 10 Americans say the government has too much power. She ignored any comment on the meaning of the slight leftward sway of the American people, but then again the mainstream media has spent the last year building up the right, which of course has influenced voters.
Some examples, the first few of which I have referenced in past blogs:
- The national mainstream media provided far more extensive coverage of the Republican primary races than they did to the Democratic primaries.
- The media nationally and locally have covered the various right-wing marches more extensively than they did the left-leaning marches, and facilitated the dissemination of outlandish totals for the rightist marches.
- The New York Times has done many more human-interest feature articles on Republican candidates across the country than it has on the Democratic candidates, often dancing around the embarrassing missteps that it has covered in the news section, such as Meg Whitman knowingly hiring an illegal alien, something she wants to punish others for doing; or Christine O’Donnell’s silly statements on masturbation and witchcraft. In the New York State governor’s race, for example, The Times has written three positive lifestyle features about Paladino and two in which the personal opinions of Paladino and Cuomo are contrasted. It seems as if The Times is trying to deliver the Italian vote to Paladino, who, remember has made a number of anti-Gay slurs, likes to send racist cartoons and hard core pornography to friends and threatened a reporter. It did one feature on Paladino’s favorite Italian restaurants and another contrasting Paladino’s and Andrew Cuomo’s approaches to their ethnic heritage. The second article intimated that both Andrew and his father distance themselves from their Italian heritage, which is not true at all—they just define being Italian as something different from and more refined than the Soprano-Godfather image.
But let’s return to what I think the major implication of the USA Today poll is: the survey is not of likely voters, but of Americans. Many of the components of the left of center—minorities and those under 30—vote in much smaller numbers than those on the right. And fueled by the enormous impact of untraceable or hard-to-trace corporate money, money that was not available to them until the Supreme Court overruled the campaign finance law last year, the right is energized in this year’s non-Presidential election.
Here’s the lesson to anyone who wants our government to continue Social Security, have an equitable tax system in which the rich pay their share like before Reagan, increase investment in roads, bridges and mass transit, figure out a way to transition to sustainable fuels, clean the environment, spend less on military, support strong public schools, create jobs and foster an atmosphere in which everyone is free to pursue their own lifestyle—to all these people who are comprised in the left plurality described by USA Today, the lesson is to vote for the Democratic candidate, even if he or she is talking a Conservative game, even if he or she has pissed you off.