First, let’s be clear: Americans like the concept of “conservative.” Nearly 40 percent of Americans—including nearly 20 percent of Democrats—identify themselves as conservative. And 62 percent of Americans—including 47 percent of Democrats—have a positive view of the word “conservative.”
Americans are also quite favorable to a generic description of “conservative.” A nationwide poll by Lake Research tested this description, based on a speech by Newt Gingrich:
We need to limit government and create space where private institutions, individual responsibility, and religious faith can flourish. That means less economic regulation and lower taxes, but it also means a return to traditional moral values, support for families, and protecting the sanctity of human life.
On a scale where ten means extremely convincing and zero means it is not convincing at all, Americans gave this statement a rating just below eight, with 39 percent rating this description a “ten.”
Even the Democratic base likes this conservative message—nearly 40 percent of them rank it a ten and only nine percent of Democrats give it a negative score.
A simpler way to describe the generic conservative philosophy is that is stands for “less government, lower taxes, free markets, strong military and family values.” Stated that way, hardly any persuadable voters oppose it.
Do you wonder why that message is so popular? There’s nothing wrong with it! Who wants a bigger or more expensive government than we need? Who opposes “free” markets (when understood as most Americans do)? Who can oppose a strong, effective national defense? Who is against morality?
It is not so surprising that these ideas are popular. What’s astonishing is that self-described “progressives” refuse to acknowledge it.