Just 57% of voters know that the political right refers to conservatives. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 15% mistakenly believe it refers to liberals and 28% are not sure.
This highlights the disconnect frequently found between the language of the political elite and the language of everyday Americans. If a politician speaks of the “political right,” just over half of the nation’s voters understand the reference. It’s also likely that some (perhaps many) of the 57% who answered correctly are less than certain of the answer.
When it comes to knowing the meaning of the political right, Republicans are more aware than Democrats or Independents. White and Hispanic voters are more likely than black voters to answer correctly.
In many ways, to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, the political elite and the rest of America are two nations separated by a common language. For pollsters, this creates a challenge. If you ask a question in the language of the political elite, it may be interpreted much differently by the survey respondents. The real danger, however, comes when the political elites fail to recognize this barrier.
For example, to the political elite, socialism is a term loosely reflecting the views of politicians like Senator Bernie Sanders or Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. However, few voters see it that way. Among those who say they like socialism, only a third believes it means a more powerful role for government and higher taxes.
Additionally, nearly half the nation’s voters don’t know what would happen if Roe v. Wade is overturned. That makes it difficult to place any value on polls showing support or opposition to that court ruling.
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Note: Neither Scott Rasmussen, ScottRasmussen.com, nor RMG Research, Inc. have any affiliation with Rasmussen Reports. While Scott Rasmussen founded that firm, he left more than seven years ago and has had no involvement since that time.
In political dialogue, people sometimes refer to political activists as being on the Left or the Right. If somebody is a political conservative, are they on the Left or the Right?
28% Not sure
The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted online by Scott Rasmussen on December 6-8, 2021. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Certain quotas were applied, and the sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, internet usage, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.