America: Still the conservative nation

by Ryan Streeter on May 25, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

There’s a saying, “The harder you try, the dumber you look.” If Team Obama isn’t careful, that will become an apt slogan for its campaign efforts to discredit Romney.

Romney may not be the average American’s ideal poster child for free market capitalism, what with his private equity wealth and moderate northeastern provenance and all. But what he stands for, both philosophically and in terms of his professional experience, is something that Americans tend to sympathize with more than Team Obama’s increasingly out-of-touch economic liberalism.

Gallup’s latest poll numbers bear this out: 41% of respondents describe themselves as conservative, but 46% say they are conservative on economic issues. And while 23% say they are liberal in general, 20% say they are liberal on economic issues. While these aren’t wide swings beyond both poles, it’s clear that people are more conservative and less liberal on economic issues than on their professed political worldview (also, even though only 38% say they are conservative on social issues, they still outnumber the 28% who say they are liberal on social issues).

The economic crisis has turned more people into economic conservatives, the reverse of what Team Obama seems to think. And this economic conservatism has grown mainly as  formerly moderate people move into the conservative camp. You can see that in this chart:

Obama’s belief that highlighting Romney’s Bain experience, complete with Joe Biden out there launching sophomoric populist slurs to supposed enthusiasts on factory floors and so on, is a big gamble. It didn’t work with Cory Booker (until he was forced to recant), and it won’t work with most Americans – especially all those millions of voting Americans out there who are smart enough to know that Obama offers no alternative to Romney’s “vampire capitalism” that promises to make their lives any better or their wallets a bit fatter.

Team Obama is floundering amidst an economically conservative electorate they choose to insult with their consultant-advised pandering rather than court with good ideas.