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Posted: December 5, 2013 7:19 p.m.

Poll finds that Americans are meeting in the middle

Newborn babies see only black and white — and shades of gray. Their ability to see pastels and primary colors develops over months.

It’s funny, then, that many grown-ups still see only two main colors: either red or blue. Red is for Republican; blue is for Democrat, and the two colors effectively mimic the way babies see, as if life itself can be viewed only through glasses tinted red or blue.

The majority of political pundits and most media commentators also reduce critical issues and coverage of government to a red or blue debate.

Since 2000, Georgia has been predictably red and now is one of the most heavily Republican states in the entire country.

Newton County is undeniably red, but a growing minority population — becoming a majority — that votes blue will merge with remaining dyed-in-the-wool Democrats to bring about changes to elected representation in the near term.

Interestingly, a poll by Esquire magazine and NBC News — in the November edition of the publication – shows this nation’s “new” center — and possibly the majority — reflects a discernable amalgam of opinions about issues usually seen through either red or blue perspectives. Just call them purple.

The poll of 2,410 voters, taken Aug. 5-11, was conducted by Benenson Strategies Group, used by the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012, and by Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies, the lead polling organization for the 2012 Romney campaign.

These analysts determined the existence of eight unique ideologies across the spectrum of voters polled, and four “that occupy the center.”

“They are merely waiting for Washington to find them,” the magazine suggested.

In this center, 28 percent call themselves Republican, 36 percent, Democrat, and 36 percent, independent. Fifty-five percent call themselves moderate, 25 percent conservative and 20 percent liberal. “…Everything we are told about politics in America today — that there is no middle ground between left and right, blue and red, us and them – is wrong.”

Forty-nine percent of the center agreed with this statement; 30 percent disagreed: “The two-party system we have in this country is broken and out of date, and American would be better off if there were more than just two parties.” Twenty-one percent had no opinion. Fifty-eight percent strongly support requiring a photo ID to vote; 17 percent, somewhat.

Question: “Do you own a gun or does someone in your household own a gun?” Sixty-two percent said, “no;” 34 percent, “yes.”

Forty-five percent of the center agreed with this statement: “Background checks are not a violation of Second Amendment rights, but rather are needed to make sure our schools and communities stay safe.” Only 14 percent believe, “The right to bear arms is absolute. All Americans should be able to buy any gun they want.”

But 54 percent believe: “Government should not legislate how Americans behave in their personal lives” when it comes to guns, abortion, marriage and marijuana.” Twenty-eight percent disagreed; 18 percent were neutral.

Forty-four percent of this center-spectrum bunch approves of gay marriage, and 13 percent oppose it. Twenty-three percent support civil unions instead. Thirty-four percent strongly support legalizing marijuana, 18 percent somewhat. Twenty percent strongly oppose it, 13 percent somewhat. Fifteen percent don’t care.

When it comes to abortion, 36 percent say it should be legal for any reason before 36 weeks of gestation, and 29 percent say only in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.

Forty-four percent of those in the center want to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 per hour; 23 percent, somewhat; 8 percent are strongly opposed, and 12 percent, somewhat opposed. Fifty-four percent agree government should maintain food stamps, welfare and Medicaid, but 26 percent say no.

Forty percent called government spending “wasteful and inefficient,” and 39 percent say government shouldn’t spend more than it takes in. Fifty percent of folks in the center want a balanced budget requirement.

The issue of raising taxes on the wealthy is one that has had the current Congress absolutely locked down, but 59 percent of the center this poll found strongly supports raising taxes on those earning $1 million or more, and 45 percent are strongly in favor of taxing carbon polluters.

When it comes to our place in the world, some 81 percent of the center says, “We can’t afford to spend money on foreign aid and building up other nations when we need to build our own country.” Seventy-six percent believe, “America should no longer be the world’s policeman, even if it means other nations playing a larger role.”

Now look at who the center trusts or doesn’t: Democrats more than Republicans; Oprah and news personalities, 6 percent; conservative pundits, liberal pundits and business leaders, 3 percent; Rush Limbaugh, 0 percent; religious leaders, 5 percent; actors and actresses, 7 percent; and military leaders, 4 percent. And 13 percent trust no one.


Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. She can be reached at barbm2158@gmail.com.

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