The last two election cycles called into question whether, as many conservatives comforted themselves, the U.S. is fundamentally a center-right nation, and had taken temporary leave of its senses in electing Obama and a Democratic Congress. I was skeptical; it seemed to me that Arthur Schlesinger's theory of political cycles--a version of realignment theory--might be coming true.
But it looks more and more as though what is really happening is that moderate voters need to be reminded every now and then how much they don't like liberalism (see: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton in 1993, etc). Bill Galston dilates on the latest Pew survey data online in The New Republic today
: "the ideological gap between the Democratic
Party and the mean voter is about three times as large as the separation between
that voter and the Republican Party. And, startlingly, the electorate places
itself a bit closer to the Tea Party movement (which is well to the right of
the Republican Party) than to the Democratic Party. All this represents a major
shift from five years ago, when mean voters placed themselves exactly halfway
between their ideological perceptions of the Democratic and Republican parties."
For Democrats in November this means: Look out below!