Zogby International blows up the conventional belief that non-Republocrats are more "moderate" than party members.
"This view mistakes a lack of party affiliation for ideological innocence," John Zogby and Zeljka Buturovic write of a poll in which Republicans, Democrats and Independents were made to confess their ideological beliefs.
Kudos to Zogby for including "libertarian" along with "liberal," "conservative" and "moderate" in its list of ways to lose your ideological innocence. Only 2 percent each of Republicans and Independents cop to having had "libertarian" thoughts. A big fat zero (0) percent of Democrats claim to be libertarian, which probably just means Democrats are more honest in answering pollsters.
Zogby's groatsworth of wit on how this works for party tent-making:
According to the view most often heard from the left, right-wing extremists are trying to hijack the Republican Party by imposing rigid tests of ideological purity. This will, they suggest, make the base of the party so small that it won't be able to appeal to independents.
The problem with this view is not all independents are moderates, and some of them are likely the very people "hijacking" the Republican Party. There exists a real possibility that making the Republican Party more conservative will expand its base by luring some of the independents into the fold. Conservative backlash that forced Dede Scozzafava from the race is essentially a process that tries to bring the Republican Party and its base into an ideological alignment that already exists among Democrats.
I am puzzled by how Zogby arrives at the conclusion that Independents are less moderate than currently believed, given that 61 percent of Independents in this poll self-identified as "moderate." (The explanation may be that two-thirds of the people identified as "Independent" by Zogby are actually registered Democrats or Republicans. At least that's what this sentence, which I think makes more sense in the original Klingon, seems to say: "On the other hand, somewhat less than a third of likely voters, who call themselves independents, belong to a group of people who are not affiliated with either party.") Zogby and Buturovic should show their work.
But it makes intuitive sense that the set of "independent" voters includes people whose views are outside the narrow no-man's-land between the two major parties.