Why aren’t voters moving to the left, toward parties favoring bigger government, during what increasingly looks like an economic depression? That’s a question I’ve asked and one that was addressed with characteristic thoughtfulness by Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg in the New York Times last week.
Greenberg argues that voters agree with Democrats on issues but don’t back them on policy, because they don’t trust government to carry it out fairly. I think he overstates their agreements on policies: They may favor “investment in education” until they figure out that it actually means political payoffs to teachers’ unions. But his larger point rings true. He points out that “the growth of self-identified conservatives” began during the fall 2008 debate over the TARP legislation supported by George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and John McCain. The voters’ take: “Government works for the irresponsible, not the responsible.”
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