WASHINGTON – The majority of Americans are progressive,and they're growing increasingly so with each passing generation,according to a report released Wednesday.
For the study,”The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America is a Myth,” progressive organizations Campaign for America's Future and Media Matters analyzed 20 years of nonpartisan polling data about the issues that separate conservatives from progressives.
On topics as wide ranging as the role of government and social issues,a majority expressed left-leaning opinions,illustrating a “country more progressive than we tend to assume,” said Robert Borosage,co-director of Campaign for America's Future.
The report examined statistics related to such issues as the environment,immigration and health care.
Three-fourths of Americans polled would be willing to pay more for electricity generated by renewable resources,and 57 percent feel immigrants have more of a positive than harmful impact on the country. Two-thirds believe immigration is good for the country.
As presidential hopefuls begin to announce health care reform platforms,the report revealed that 69 percent of Americans believe it's the government's responsibility to ensure coverage for all,and 76 percent believe access to coverage should take priority over maintaining the Bush administration's tax cuts.
While a majority of Americans identify themselves as conservative,Paul Waldman,a senior fellow at Media matters and a co-author of the report,said that when questioned on individual issues they are progressive.
“People don't have a very good grasp of what those kinds of labels are supposed to mean when it comes to politics,” Waldman said.
For others “liberal” has become such a demonized label that they instead say they are moderates,he said.
Despite these progressive positions,the conventional belief that Americans are conservative is in part advanced by the media,Waldman said.
“When Republicans win elections,the reason we're told is because the country is so conservative,” he said. “When Democrats win,we're told that it must be some sort of accident,but we don't see any evidence.”
The report's release served as a prelude to next week's three-day Take Back America conference in Washington sponsored by the Campaign for America's Future. It will bring together the top Democratic presidential candidates and more than 3,000 progressive activists.
The fifth annual conference will feature a “kitchen table” discussion Monday with newly elected Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown,D-Ohio; Amy Klobuchar,D-Minn.; Bernie Sanders,I-Vt.,and John Tester,D-Mont.
On Tuesday Democratic presidential candidates Gov. Bill Richardson,D-N.M.; Sen. Barack Obama,D-Ill.; former senator John Edwards,D-N.C.,and Sen. Hillary Clinton,D-N.Y.,address activists.
The conference will conclude Wednesday with speeches by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,D-Calif.,and filmmaker Michael Moore,whose new film,”Sicko,” examines health care.
Howard Dean,chairman of the Democratic National Committee,and the Rev. Jesse Jackson,will also speak.
“This is an energized and optimistic progressive movement and that energy is going to be reflected in every single day of the conference,” Roger Hickey,co-director of Campaign for America's Future,said.