Most Americans identify as 'moderates'
Despite what the signage in upstate New York might suggest
I’ve been spending more time in the woods during COVID.
The thing about the woods is that they are not located in the city. And when you get outside the city, at least in New York state, you very quickly find yourself in places where politics is done in a demonstrative way: barns with enormous banners reading things like “F*ck Biden” (sometimes with the asterisk, usually not), or lawn signs reading “Go Brandon” (for non-Americans, an explainer here).
I won’t comment on whether these signs enhance or detract from the beauty of the rural countryside. But it does make me wonder—how widespread are those sentiments? If we assume only the most ideologically extreme are putting up signs, and the number of signs has increased, then is the number of ideologically extreme people increasing?
The survey data shown in the chart above suggests this is not the case. The plurality of Americans (38%) consider themselves politically ‘moderate’—only 2% less than fifty years ago. The proportion of people who identify as “extremely liberal” or “extremely conservative” has increased, but only very slightly.
There really are a lot of F*ck Biden banners in rural New York. But I wonder—if everyone was forced to put up a banner—would most of them say something more like, “It’s complicated”?