Continuing the trend since President Obama’s inauguration, the largest bloc of U.S. voters labeled themselves “conservative” (40%). “Moderates,” who usually dominated prior to 2009, came in second at 36 percent and “liberals” remained in third with one-fifth of the electorate.
It is this ideological array that leads national pundits to label American politics center right.
Colorado has somewhat different ideological distribution. Although the latest Ciruli Associates poll shows voters are most likely to call themselves “conservative” (42%), as of December 2011, more Colorado voters labeled themselves “liberal” (29%) than “moderate (24%).
The national 2008 exit poll in Colorado showed that people who labeled themselves “moderate” or “middle of the road” in the presidential election were the dominant group (46%). They help produce Colorado’s volatile politics. The strong conservative ascendancy in the early 21st century was replaced by liberal dominance from 2006 to 2010. Then conservatives roared back to power in 2010.
Both parties, in terms of their activists, tend to be monopolized by their extremes. Liberals, many describing themselves as “strong liberals,” are the most influential Democratic leaders around the country, including the President and a majority of the Democratic members of the Senate and House. And, of course, conservative House members, many elected in 2010 as Tea Party Movement supporters, have produced most of the gridlock in D.C. during the 2011 session.
However, on Election Day, it is the moderates who are prepared to join liberals, at least as often as conservatives, that make both national and Colorado politics volatile and competitive.
Today, Colorado, like Washington, is now in an ideological standoff waiting for the 2012 election to rearrange the game.