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Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mas. (Associated Press)

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mas. (Associated Press)

Editorial: Extreme views can be tempered by center

Last Modified: Thursday, February 07, 2013 8:39 PM

To hear some folks talk, Louisiana is a virtual hotbed of Republican right-wingers, with the GOP holding firm to power in the Governor’s Mansion, Senate, House and among our national delegation. Sounds overpowering for conservatives, no?

But a 2012 Gallup poll released recently suggests that while Louisiana is a Top 10 conservative state, it trails other, perhaps less likely conservative prospects like North Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho. That’s based on residents’ own perceptions of their political ideology.

This, too, is of interest: While Louisiana ranks high for its self-identified conservatism, our people’s conservative principles may not always track toward the Republican Party at the polls that really matter — those that open to voters on Election Day. That’s because while 45.6 percent of our state’s voters say they are politically conservative, fewer say they are Republican. Louisiana, according to Gallup, is not a Top 10 Republican state.

The same holds true for our neighbors in Mississippi and in Arkansas. Mississippi ranked No. 4 in self-professed conservatism, with 48.2 identifying themselves as conservatives; Arkansas ranks No. 9 in self-described conservatism, right behind Louisiana. But neither of those is a Top 10 Republican state.

That may suggest to Democrats, generally perceived as the more liberal party, that states like our own can still be in play come election time. Yes, the Democrats have experienced a tough, downhill slide in recent elections in Louisiana, but Republicans are not necessarily a majority here.

The key to victory — this holds true for both parties — still seems to rest in appealing to the self-described political moderates. Longtime liberal Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts once described moderates as liberals who were up for reelection. And the Gallup poll suggests that more Americans, at least in their own minds, are shifting a step leftward politically. In Louisiana, some 34.8 percent of voters perceive themselves as residing in the political middle — and a moderate in this state may be very different from a moderate elsewhere. In Mississippi, one-third of poll respondents described themselves as being in the political middle. In Arkansas, 33.5 percent say they are in squarely in the center.

None of this is bad, of course. The political ideologies of interested, responsible voters may vary. People benefit when two (or more) political parties actively compete for their votes. They benefit when two or more candidates provide thoughtful platforms and political stances to all voters, paying heed to the preferences of those in the middle. Extreme views can be tempered by the political center, whose votes keep the ship of state sailing smoothly down the middle of the channel, not veering too sharply, left or right.

Oh, the most conservative state? Alabama, No. 1 in so many darn things.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

Posted By: Mark L. Jennings, La. On: 2/10/2013

Title: Mark L. Jennings, La.

God help us. Conservatism is dead. Anything goes regarding giving something for a vote. As far as Barny least he is out of the closet and honest about his Liberalism...

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