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Wrong way sign
With the demise of the corporatist right-wing Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), Third Way has filled the void. Unlike the then-flashy and public DLC, Third Way operates mostly in the shadows, presenting as small a target as possible while insidiously worming its way into the D.C. party establishment (see here, here and here).

But every once in a while they fly their colors.

In post-election polling by Third Way, and confirmed by national exit polls, the plurality of those who pulled the lever for President Barack Obama were not liberals but self-described moderates. In fact, 56 percent of those who voted for the president defined their own ideology as either moderate or conservative. A supermajority of Obama voters said they wanted the president to be more moderate or conservative in his second term compared with his first. And overwhelmingly, they wanted the president and members of Congress from both parties to compromise rather than stand their ground. In fact, the most unanimously supported statement in the post-election poll of 800 Obama voters was this: “Democrats and Republicans both need to make real compromises to come to an agreement on fixing the deficit.” A full 96 percent agreed with that statement.
I dug up that poll on their website, and got such insight as:
[W]hen it comes to winning Senate races, Democrats must recognize that the base of their vote is actually moderates, not liberals.
Got that? Third Way wants you to believe that the Democratic base is actually non-liberals who want Obama to be more conservative in his second term. You buying it? Of course not, and fear not, your gut instincts are correct, as I prove below the fold.

All of this is par for the course for an organization that offered up this terrible pre-election advice:

By siding with public anger against big banks and pushing for higher taxes on millionaires, Obama may make Americans more unhappy about wide income inequality, which could hurt his re-election bid.

"Populism is predicated on people feeling that they are getting the short stick," said Jim Kessler, vice president for policy at Third Way, a nonpartisan think-tank in Washington.

"In tough economic times, optimists win presidential races and pessimists lose. It is very hard to be both a populist and have a sunny view of America's future," Kessler said.

Of course, the issue never has been whether people want compromise or not. Compromise, in the abstract, is good. Ask them what they're willing to give away to an unpopular GOP beholden to an unpopular tea party and promoting unpopular issues and the equation is suddenly different. Ask them about specific spending cuts, and their tone immediately changes. That's why even Republicans are afraid to suggest specific cuts.

Fact is, "moderates" are mostly liberals who shy from the label after seeing it demonized for decades. Pew has done fantastic work drilling into the Democratic and Republican bases with their Political Typology project:

On the left, Solid Liberals express diametrically opposing views from the Staunch Conservatives on virtually every issue. While Solid Liberals are predominantly white, minorities make up greater shares of New Coalition Democrats – who include nearly equal numbers of whites, African Americans and Hispanics – and Hard-Pressed Democrats, who are about a third African American. Unlike Solid Liberals, both of these last two groups are highly religious and socially conservative. New Coalition Democrats are distinguished by their upbeat attitudes in the face of economic struggles.
These three groups, all economically liberal, make up 40 percent of registered voters.

So what about the New Dems/Third Way/DLC types? Pew calls them "post-moderns":

Post-Moderns are largely white, well-educated and affluent. They also share a relatively secular outlook on some social issues, including homosexuality and abortion [...]

Post-Moderns are less supportive of increased aid for the needy and are far less likely to view racial discrimination as the main obstacle to African American progress.

These are Wall Street asshole corporatist Democrats (which literally dominate Third Way). They are correct on social issues, very very wrong on economic ones. And how big are they as a group? Not big. Pew pegs them at 14 percent of registered voters. That doesn't mean they're irrelevant! We don't get to 50 percent without these guys—a reason that social issues played so prominently last year (when, ironically, it was Republicans who wanted to ignore them). But Third Way should dispense with the fantasies about being "the base," because they are but a sliver of it.

Just look at the 2012 exit polling—asked about the most important issue facing the country, only 15 percent of exit poll respondents said the federal budget deficit, outpaced by both the economy and health care. Third Way would have you believe otherwise.

Their sleight of hand is to pretend that every respondent claiming to be a "moderate" is cut form their mold. Neither the data, nor common sense, support that laughable notion.

Originally posted to kos on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 12:13 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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