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muriel_volestrangler's Journal
muriel_volestrangler's Journal
July 10, 2014

The median views of Americans on 13 political topics

"Moderate voters are a myth" is an Ezra Klein article about a survey designed to see how views on different topics are spread out on a line that is roughly 'left to right' for each subject. The draft paper is here.

To do so, we rely on the 7-point policy questions discussed earlier, which provide respondents
with seven policy proposals for each of 13 distinct issues and ask them to select the position that
comes closest to their own views. Extremely liberal and conservative statements anchor these
scales so that we can capture the full range of potential views. Further, a team of undergraduate
research assistants logged the positions of senators from the 113th Congress so that we could craft
scale points “3” and “5” to represent mainstream Democratic and Republican elite positions, with
point “4” occupying truly centrist ground for each of the 13 issues.

Klein uses this to say "there aren't moderate voters, just people who have mixed views". But I thought it would be interesting just to pull out the 'median' viewpoint - that is, the view which contains the person with 50% on either side of them. Of course, it's more complicated than that (for instance, for the marijuana question, 49.9% were more 'liberal' than the median position, and only 31.5% more 'authoritarian', so the median is almost in the more liberal position). But here are those 'median' viewpoints:

The federal government should allow states to individually determine whether to legalize
marijuana for medical uses, but prohibit recreational use of marijuana.

The government should enact regulations encouraging energy efficiency and subsidize
the use and development of solar, wind, and nuclear energy.

Social security benefits should be increased.

Fully automatic guns like high-powered machine guns should be extremely difficult
or illegal for civilians to purchase. Those wishing to buy other kinds of guns should
always have to pass a background check, except when buying guns from friends and

The government should help pay for all health care for vulnerable populations like the
elderly, children, and those with low incomes. Other Americans should only receive
assistance in paying for catastrophic illnesses.

The United States should admit more highly skilled immigrants and secure the border
with increased physical barriers to stem the flow of other immigrants.

Increase federal income taxes on those making over $250,000 per year to 1990s rates
( 5% above current rates). Use the savings to lower taxes and provide more services to
those making less while also paying down the national debt.

Abortion should only be legal if the life of the mother is in danger or in cases of rape
and incest.

Maintain the current annual growth in Medicare spending and all other aspects of the
program in their current form.

Same-sex couples should be allowed to marry each other and adopt children.

Workers should be allowed to attempt to form unions with voluntary dues and membership.
Unions should only be formed through secret ballots, and unionized workplaces
must hold recertification elections regularly. Corporations should not be allowed to fire
workers for starting them.

The sale of birth control pills should be allowed. Pharmacists should be required to sell
them and insurance companies should be forced to cover their cost.

Private schools should be legal and retain tax exempt status, but government should
play no active role in funding private education.

That is, according to their ratings, 5 topics agreeing with the 'mainstream Democratic' senators (marijuana, taxes, Medicare, contraception and education), 1 to the left of that (Social Security), 3 agreeing with the Republican position (immigration, abortion and unions), and 4 centrist (energy/environment, gun control, healthcare and gay rights) (questions are in Appendix A2, and results in Appendix C, Table 10).

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Home country: United Kingdom
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