According to the Magid survey, a clear majority of Americans favor "a government that actively tries to solve the problems facing society and the economy," while only 31 percent prefer "a government that stays out of society and the economy to the greatest extent possible." This extreme language is what has been defining Republicans for decades, not only contributing to the polarization of our country but also misleading Americans.
There is absolutely a percentage of Americans who believe that government should be the solution to our country's woes, and we should all be taxed a little bit more for the greater good. On the other hand, the hyper-contrasting language in the survey does not summarize what Republicans believe, although that was its intent.
The fact is, Republicans believe there is a role for government in America. We even heard Romney say in the first debate that there should be some regulation and oversight. I'd even argue that Republicans believe government should play an active role in solving some of society's problems. Where we lose the message war is right at this point. Your average undecided voter would be surprised to hear that Republicans believe in defining who the truly neediest are, i.e. below the poverty line, and establishing support for them--ideally temporarily--to allow them to get through a hardship and to pick themselves back up. Contrary to what Democrats say, and what this survey leads us to believe, the compassionate conservative believes in helping those who truly need help.
Some more extreme language from the Magid survey revolves around foreign policy, a topic we will hear about in the final presidential debate. According to the survey, a majority of Democratic identifiers favor an approach focused on alliance building, while most Republican identifiers prefer a foreign policy centered on U.S. military strength. Again, it's this purposeful contrasting messaging that has painted Republicans as a "bomb first, ask questions later" party. And while there were neocons who roamed the halls of the White House during the Bush administration and are still very powerful inside the Beltway, the fact is that unilateral force is not a policy; it's a last-resort option.
Contrarily, Republicans--rightfully so--will not be bullied by their enemies or their allies' enemies and believe in a much more balanced approach of building alliances while having a strong military presence, a stance I believe most Americans are comfortable with. Meanwhile, Obama's desire to be liked by the world over the past three years has resulted in chaos in the Middle East, and while some may not want to hear this, other countries have always respected a U.S. president who was willing to act militarily if provoked.
Finally, the Magid survey said that close to half of the electorate believes that "the best policy is to ensure that all Americans have at least a basic standard of living and level of income, even if that increases government spending," while about one-third say that "the best policy is to let each person get along economically on his or her own, even if that means some people have a lot more than others." While this is more extreme contrasting language that has kept the drumbeat of the Democratic narrative against Republicans going for decades, it's an issue Romney has failed to convince voters on.