http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/01/22/the-real-extremists-are-american-voters-not-politicians/ The real extremists are American voters, not politicians, por David Broockman(Monkey Cage):
According to a common line of thinking, campaign donors and primary voters are pulling politics to the extremes. Most Americans, the story goes, would prefer their legislators to chart a moderate course.
In a working paper, I question this view. Using a survey designed to measure support for extreme policies, I find that the characterization of the public as largely centrist rests on shaky ground. On many issues, much of the public appears to support more extreme policies than legislators do. And while many argue that today’s engaged activists support more extreme policies than the broader public, my findings suggest the opposite: The disengaged and infrequent voters who allegedly constitute the moderate middle are actually more likely to endorse extreme policies than politically active voters.
Why might we have missed much extremism in the public generally and among the less engaged? The answer is subtle, but has important implications for how we should think about the the public’s attitudes and politicians’ positions. And it might be best explained by pretending you have a crazy uncle.
Suppose your uncle believes that the United States should nationalize the health-care system (a very liberal view) and that gay people should be jailed (a very conservative view). And suppose your uncle is represented in Congress by a moderate Republican who supports civil unions (but opposes gay marriage) and who supports helping the poor purchase health insurance (but opposes Obamacare), two positions just right of center.
Your uncle’s views can’t really be described in ideological terms like “center left” or “very conservative.” He has some mix of very liberal and very conservative views, many of them extreme. But if we try to compare your uncle’s views to his congressperson’s positions in abstract, ideological terms, as academics and journalists often do, some plain facts about your uncle and his legislator both become obscured. Since your uncle supports some liberal policies and some conservative policies, we’d call him a “moderate on average.” However, his congressperson’s conservative votes on both Obamacare and gay marriage mean we might call the legislator conservative. We thus might condemn your uncle’s congressperson for being a conservative extremist while celebrating your uncle’s moderation. However, it’s quite clear that your uncle’s views tend to be further outside the mainstream, just not consistently in one direction.