If you, like us, are a moderate, you are not alone.
You weigh arguments from both sides. You see complexity where others find certainty. You don’t shout down discussion. You see the folly of absolutes. Compromise is a virtue. You are willing to give a little to get a little. You want government to work and believe it can, but fear it won’t. Your decision is not whether to vote, but for whom to vote. You are willing to be persuaded. You are a moderate; you occupy the center. You represent the plurality of the national electorate. You are interesting. And you are not alone.
If you, like us, are a moderate you are among diversity. Thirty-seven percent of self-identified moderates are non-white, which is more diverse than either liberals (30%) or conservatives (25%). You may be young. Millennials are the most moderate of any voting generation. You lean Democratic, though 40% of moderates call themselves Independents, and only one-third say party labels tell me what I need to know about a politician. And you believe both parties are more ideological than the parties view themselves. One-quarter of moderates describe congressional Democrats as very liberal and two-fifth say congressional Republicans are very conservative.
You don’t blur complexities, but surface them. By an overwhelming 84-14% margin, moderates support universal background checks. But by a 58-40% margin, moderates say today’s gun laws are sufficient to keep me safe. By a 53-40% margin, moderates wish government was more involved in improving the economy. Yet by a 54-43% margin, moderates believe that when government gets involved in something it usually goes wrong. And three-quarters of moderates want to see the deficit reduced and spending on infrastructure increased. These aren’t contradictions; these are complexities – because the world is complicated and so is public policy.
As a moderate, you are the deciders. In a typical national election, if more than 55% of moderates vote for the blue candidate, Democrats capture the White House. In states like Arkansas, Alaska, Missouri, Colorado, and Montana, it takes winning a supermajority of 60% of moderates or more for Democrats to win those Senate seats or the governor’s office. In every major congressional vote, in every important statewide ballot initiative, in every national debate – the outcome is decided by those in the middle who weigh both sides of the argument and move in one direction or the other accordingly. There would be no ACA without moderates, no marriage for gay people, and no attempt at a grand bargain.
Both political parties have a need for moderates but not a proper home. Neither can win an election without them and neither can pass a law. But a Republican moderate is decried as a RINO or squishy by the loud activists on the right. A Democratic moderate is demeaned as a corporatist or a sell-out by the loud voices on the left. But you are not alone. You are a plurality of the electorate and you have a home here.