>A Pew Center survey released on July 16 has some interesting evidence on how Americans position themselves in comparison with our three parties -- the Tea, Democratic, and Republican, that is. On a left-right continuum, voters now place themselves much closer to the Republican Party than to the Democratic Party. The ideological gap between the Democratic Party and the average voter is about three times larger than the separation between that voter and the Republican Party.
Remarkably, the electorate places itself a bit closer to the Tea Party movement (which they place to the right of the Republican Party) than to the Democratic Party. In contrast, five years ago, average voters placed themselves exactly halfway between their ideological perceptions of the Democratic and Republican parties.
Independents now position themselves twice as far from the Democrats as from the Republicans. 56 percent of Independents see the Democratic Party as more liberal than they themselves are, compared to 39 percent who see the Republican Party as more conservative.
This would appear to be very bad news for the Democrats in 2010 -- and, in the short term, it probably is. But other findings in the survey may give the Democrats hope. Democrats are more ideologically diverse. Only 42 percent term themselves liberal or very liberal while 65 percent of GOPers label themselves conservative or very conservative.