With the presidential elections looming and Republican candidates consistently trailing Democrats in the polls, many Republicans with liberal voting records are recasting themselves as conservatives in order to appeal to the same evangelicals that swept George Bush into the White House in 2002. But according to a new study by Campaign for America’s Future and Media Matters for America, the majority of Americans are not as conservative as some religious leaders claim.
According to the report, Americans hold progressive views on a wide range of topic from health care to the economy. The report shows that 69 percent of respondents believe that the federal government should guarantee health care for all Americans. The same percentage believe that the government should care for those people that are unable to care for themselves.
Major Republican leaders have been firmly opposed to an increase in the minimum wage, citing the strain on small businesses, but 77 percent of Americans believe that $5.15 an hour wage should be increased.
On controversial social issues, only three percent of Americans consider gay marriage as the most important issue facing America, and abortion was ranked 14th on a list of “extremely important” issues. A January 2007 CNN Poll showed that only 29 percent of Americans want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. The study also cited a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll from April 2005 that showed 76 percent of respondents disapproved of Congressional involvement in the Terri Schiavo case, and a January 2007 Washington Post Poll that showed 61 percent of Americans support stem cell research.
Homeland security has also been a hot button issue for Republicans eager to appeal to a conservative base, 65 percent of Americans believe that the United States is less respected now than before the war on terror began, and 45 percent believe the best way to reduce the threat of terrorist attacks is to reduce American military presence overseas. Only 17 percent of Americans believe that attacking countries that produce weapons of mass destruction would increase national security.
On the issue of gun control, 56 percent of Americans believe that gun control laws should be stricter, and 60 percent of people believe that the government should do more to restrict the kinds of guns that people can buy. Seventy-one percent of poll respondents believed that the federal law banning assault weapons should have been passed again. Americans are almost equally split on capital punishment, with 47 percent supporting the death penalty in murder cases, while 48 percent favor life in prison.
Environmental concerns are also at the top of the list with most voters. Eighty-four percent of Americans are concerned about the pollution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and 79 percent are concerned about air pollution. Even with soaring gas prices and unrest in the Middle East, 57 percent of Americans oppose opening up the Arctic National Refuge in Alaska for oil exploration. Eighty-six percent of Americans support additional government spending to develop alternative fuels.
The study shows that nearly 75 percent of those who label themselves as conservatives are not true conservatives, and more than half hold some liberal preferences.
Source: Eric Lotke, Robert Gerson, Paul Waldman, Andrew Seifter, The Progressive Majority: Why Conservative America Is a Myth