2 Data Points Suggest Republicans Should Maybe Tone It Down a Little

Most Americans describe themselves as moderates and rate the two major political parties as relatively extreme, according to a recent survey conducted by a Democratic think tank.


Centrism has fallen out of fashion in the post-Trump age, but voters may be ready for a return to boring.


A Third Way and Impact Research survey released last month found that U.S. voters on average rate themselves as moderate or slightly conservative-leaning.

(Source: Third Way. Chart: Third Way.)

The analysts asked registered voters “to place themselves on a 10-point ideological scale, with 0 being the most liberal, 10 being the most conservative, and 5 being the middle, and then to plot the Democratic and Republican parties on the same scale.”

  • Respondents gave themselves an average ideological score of 5.6, which meant they leaned “slightly more conservative than center,” per the survey.
  • Democratic and Republican politicians “are rated similarly far from the center, and Democrats are seen as further from where voters place themselves ideologically.”
  • “Given voters’ moderate self-rankings compared to both parties, it is unsurprising that when asked which party nominated the most moderate candidates for Congress this year, a large plurality of swing voters (46%) said ‘neither party,'” the analysts wrote.

Third Way’s advice for Democrats: “In an era when Republicans are leapfrogging each other to drive their party to ever-more dangerous extremes, it is imperative that Democrats be seen as the mainstream alternative — not simply a mirror image of polarization.”


Following disappointing midterm election results for the GOP — and particularly hardline “MAGA” candidates in pivotal races — prominent Republicans have urged a more measured rhetorical tone to avoid turning off normie voters.

  • The GOP’s failure to capture independents, who broke for Democrats by 4 percentage points in the midterms, has also been cited as a reason to move away from more polarizing politicians, like Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Ga.
  • The Wall Street Journal’s Aaron Zitner summed up the dilemma in a midterms post-mortem last month: “The election results revive a debate that runs through many election campaigns about whether to drive turnout among a party’s core supporters, which often means promoting the most ideologically sharp policy ideas, or whether the better course is to try to persuade voters in the political center.”