According to Morris P. Fiorina, a political science professor at Stanford University, Americans are not as far apart on the issues as you might think-or, more to the point, as the media portray them to be. Speaking at a lunch this afternoon hosted by the Hoover Institution, Fiorina laid out his extensive data on voters and, as it turns out, the vast majority of voters are nonideological moderates-what Fiorina calls the "uninterested, uninvolved electorate." When asked to rank the most important concerns, illegal immigration and the environment vastly outweighed abortion and gay and lesbian issues. And specifically on abortion, while we know that a number of Republican voters consider themselves pro-choice, 11 percent of those self-described as "strong Democrats" equally believe abortion should not be an option under any circumstance. As Fiorina tells it, this simply means abortion does not determine the voting behavior of many people.
Fiorina, who calls himself a libertarian, believes that based on his data, the Republicans still have more serious issues with which to contend than the Democrats. (The GOP continues to lag behind when it comes to youth voters and Hispanics.) Not that the Democrats have it easy. When asked what he would advise the Obama administration, Fiorina said the economy should be foremost on their agenda and not health care reform. But he guesses that the White House and the Democrats in Congress really do believe they have a rare opportunity to pass landmark legislation, polls be damned.
Along with Samuel J. Abrams, Fiorina has written a new book, Disconnect: The Breakdown of Representation in American Politics. Worth checking out.