Meet the moderates—they’re more progressive than you think.
A new NBC News/Esquire poll has found that America’s political middle ground is larger and more liberal than commonly thought.
“The thing that blew us away – we knew there was a center,” NBC News White House correspondent Chuck Todd said. But we didn’t know “how big it was—it’s 51% of the country. A majority is somewhere in the middle. They don’t even know it!”
Socially, these moderates lean far to the left: 64% support gay marriage, 63% support abortion in the first trimester, and 52% support legalizing marijauana. They also support a strong, regulated support system–67% support a minimum wage at $10 or more, 62% support paid sick leave, 70% support paid maternity leave, and 57% support tax-subsidies childcare to help women get back to work.
NBC News surveyed thousands with more than one hundred questions each, bringing together President Obama’s pollster and former presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney’s pollsters for the poll. They then segmented everyone into eight distinct groups.
“Two of them are truly liberal groups –and that makes up 21%, the bleeding hearts we call them and the sort of Gospel left. Two of them are hard right—the radio sort of talk radio right and the Evangelicals,” Todd said.
Everyone in the middle? The 51%? Moderates.
“What was stunning was how big the middle truly was,” Todd said.
Suburban women and moms, highly-educated business people, socially conservative economic populists, and highly cynical young folks are all moderate in their views—whether they realize it or not, Todd explained.
“The middle isn’t defined by a lack of intensity, or let’s split the difference between left and right, they have very passionate positions on a lot of things, they just don’t conform to the contours of traditional liberalism, tradition conservatism,” Esquire senior editor Richard Dorman said on Morning Joe.
The moderates swung to the right on issues of the environment (81% of modersates support offshore drilling), the death penalty (90% support it), and diversity support programs (57% support the end of affirmative action in jobs and education.)
“The common thread is fairness and a meritocracy,” Todd said. “It’s the Morning Joe middle.”
Take Esquire’s interactive quiz to find out where you stand in the spectrum and watch the discussion here.