William Galston explains in TNR:
In 2005, Republicans’ and Democrats’ views of their own parties dovetailed with the perceptions of the electorate as a whole. Today, while voters as a whole agree with Republicans’ evaluation of their party as conservative, they disagree with Democrats, who on average see their party as moderate rather than liberal.
So when Independents, who see themselves as modestly right of center, say that Democrats are too liberal, average Democrats can’t imagine what they’re talking about.
Compounding the problem, the American people are gradually polarizing. According to Gallup, twenty years ago, as Bill Clinton began his presidential campaign, self-described moderates formed the plurality of the electorate — 43 percent; conservatives were 36 percent, liberals 17 percent.
By the summer of 2011, the conservative share had risen to 41 percent and liberals to 21 percent, while moderates declined to 36 percent, surrendering their plurality status to conservatives. Because nearly all conservatives now vote for Republicans and liberals for Democrats, the share of the shrinking pool of moderates that Democrats need to build a majority is now larger than ever.
Another Gallup finding that should alert Democrats is the ongoing collapse of public confidence in government. A survey released earlier this week found that Americans now believe that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every dollar it spends, the highest estimate ever recorded. Twenty-five years ago, that figure stood at only 38 cents…
Tellingly, a number of at-risk Democratic senators up for reelection in 2012 have already refused to go along with key elements of the president’s recent proposals.
The beltway media are almost unanimously Democrats. They live in an echo chamber where, as Galston says, “they can’t imagine what independents are talking about” when they say that the Party has become too liberal.
21% of the country may be a small sliver, but it’s still a lot of people and they have a disproportionate influence on politics, even with the ascension of the New Media. Blue voters and donors are highly concentrated in places like New York, LA, DC, Boston, the Bay area, and Chicago, but they have the media megaphone as well as the campaign dollars.
On issue after issue over the last two years, from the GZM to the 2010 election and on and on, we have seen that the opinion shapers of the Beltway media and the NYT have been losing, sometimes by 70-30 margins. They’ve often explained this by saying that the majority is stupid and hateful. That is a bad strategy.
Mr. Galston has performed a valuable service for his party and particularly its opinion shapers. But honestly, does anyone expect the writers at the Times or the Post to change their opinions after so many years? If anything, we expect the shouting to get louder and the accusations more absurd.