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US Public 'Most Conservative since 1952'

James Stimson's index of policy mood shows trend continuing throughout Obama years. Reaction to Obama or a wider trend?
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/1/2013, 10:34 AM

Elizabeth Dole next to statue of Ronald Reagan
Elizabeth Dole next to statue of Ronald Reagan
Reuters

Americans are in their most conservative "policy mood" since 1952, according to political scientist James Stimson's policy mood index, quoted by fellow political science expert Larry Bartels in the Washington Post.

Stimson has been tracking the nation’s policy preferences using an index based on opinion surveys involving hundreds of specific policy questions on topics ranging from taxes and spending to environmental matters and gun control.

Bartels says that the latest update of Stimson’s policy mood series suggests that the current level of conservatism roughly equals the previous highs recorded in 1980 and 1952. The increase in conservatism from 2011 to 2012 is too small to be significant, he says, but "it continues a marked trend that began as soon as Barack Obama moved into the White House."

The marked conservative shift under Obama "is by no means unusual," notes Bartels; "the country also moved sharply to the right under Bill Clinton (before the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994) and Jimmy Carter. 

There are widely diverging views within Israel and among its supporters as to which kind of American administration is better for Israel's interests.

While US Jews vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, Republican presidents tend less toward American isolationism, making the US a more potent force in the Middle East. To the extent that Israel benefits from the presence of a US ally that is perceived as "the world's policeman," Republican administrations appear to be preferable for its interests.

However, dissenters point out that Republican governments have also been hostile to Israel on various key issues and that there is an isolationist trend within the Republican party as well.