US adults agree with Democrats. Republicans favored to win.

Robert Waldmann

A new Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, Harvard poll of US opinions on the role of government reminds me that actual people in the US have progressive views on the role of government.

click to enlarge

commentary after the jump.

Of course part of the issue is that people want the Federal government to do more and spend less. However, there are narrower majorities which stress the fact that there are no free lunches. by 50% to 46% a plurality (or majority) thinks considers more important “increasing federal spending to try to create jobs and improfe the economy” than “avoiding a big increase in the federal budget deficit”. A 49 to 47% plurality wants the federal government to provide “more services even if it costs more in taxes” than wants fewer services and less taxes.

The results of the poll are hard to reconcile with the positions of the parties on these issues and declared voting intentions. Clearly a large part of the difference is due to the fact that this is a poll of adults not of likely voters or even registered voters.

I have the jpg of a bit of the pdf, because I was outraged at the description of hte results on the front page of Part of the article clearly referred to question 10

They [most Americans] want Washington to be involved in schools and to help reduce poverty. Nearly half want the government to maintain a role in regulating health care.

That description is, in my view, false, since it described support for more involvement as support for any involvement.

And then the respondents decide to blow my mind.

Pluralities at least take the fiscally liberal position on taxing and spending. The questions on taxes are all about generally high or low taxes and not who’s taxes should be hihgh and who’s low, and I know that there is very strong support among US adults for increased tax progressivity. So why do many more Americans call themselves conservatives than liberals ? I always believed that it was because they were socially conservative, maybe not even taking conservative issues on public policy on social issues but considered their personal morality conservative.

I have long been totally wrong. The poll ends asking if the respondent is liberal moderate or conservative three ways– politically, fiscally or socially. Not only do many more people describe themselves as fiscally conservative than as fiscally liberal, but many more people describe themselves as fiscally conservative than describe themselves as socially conservative. here is the link to the poll again.

This is in the same poll where a minority considers taxes more important than government services and in which a minority considers the deficit less important that increasing spending to try to stimulate the economy. I am puzzled. There isn’t a logical contradiction as all can be explained if fiscal moderates agree with fiscal liberals on those issues, but I don’t know what the respondents dislike about the word liberal. I thought it was our loose morals, but then I can’t explain the answers to the final question.