In-depth political polling can be an effective way to measure changes in attitudes on specific topics. However, it is less common these days. For example, many pollsters have stopped asking about income inequality and similar issues after the Occupy Wall Street movement. But it’s still important to know whether people have changed their opinions on these questions.
Moderates are more likely to respond to candidate factors.
A study of a national poll on gun control, health care and climate change found that moderate political views aren’t that rare in the American electorate. It also found that those who identify as moderate are more likely to respond to candidate factors than to ideology. While this relationship isn’t perfect, it does suggest that in-depth political polling can reveal the opinions of Americans who might otherwise go unnoticed. It’s important to remember that many people who self-identify as moderate don’t think about politics in terms of policy but instead are influenced by alternative views. The most consequential swing voters could change elections by voting for a different candidate on policy grounds rather than partisan identity. But it’s also worth recognizing that they participate at lower rates than more partisan types and that their influence is limited. That’s why ensuring that the polling process is done well and that high-quality data is gathered is important.
Moderates are more likely to respond to ideology.
Thinking of the US as a polarized, right-and-left nation has become commonplace. But a recent study shows a significant middle of the political spectrum that doesn’t fall into either camp. The moderate majority is a crucial swing group that is often ignored. But they can make or break election outcomes and have an important role in shaping the day’s debates. Moderates are not tuned out or ill-informed; they see both sides of issues and use their views to understand the situation better. On the other hand, extremists have one way of looking at things and will not allow others to change them. A recent analysis found that voters aren’t exceptionally responsive to issue positioning in gubernatorial races but are more than twice as likely to respond to ideology. This suggests that in-depth political polling may not be as effective at predicting electoral outcomes as we once thought.
Moderates are more likely to respond to experience.
Pollsters focused on experience tend to find moderate political views more likely to respond. The relationship between in-depth political polling and moderate political views is a bit complicated. Still, it makes sense when you look at the way that people tend to answer survey questions. It’s also worth noting that pollsters often ask about a subject only when it becomes front-page news, such as during the Occupy Wall Street movement or the 2008 financial crisis. This kind of attention can lead to biased responses that need to reflect long-term trends. One way to counteract this is to ask more open-ended questions about various issues and trends. Those questions can be more accurate than asking only about partisan politics and Washington insiders’ preoccupations. This is particularly true in presidential elections when voters have many interests at stake.
Moderates are more likely to respond to party leadership.
Despite the partisan divides in American politics, we know relatively little about the moderate political views of the general population. To the extent they appear in surveys, political scientists commonly describe them as politically unsophisticated, uninformed, ideologically naive, secretly partisan or ideologically cross-pressured. But many Americans may have genuine policy preferences that are moderate. This is what we call nonliberals and non-conservatives, who hold a distinctive mix of liberal and conservative positions.