No real conservatives

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, but when it comes to government spending, actual conservatives are very few and far between.  Sure, they are all for cutting government spending, but mostly on those items that represent a very small portion of the budget, e.g., environmental protection, international aid.  The will to cut the budget items that actually drive our deficit just isn’t there.  Here’s a nice graph of a a recent Pew poll from Ezra:


And, its not just Democrats driving these results.  Ezra again:

And this comes alongside a new Pew poll (pdf) showing that the only category of federal spending that a majority of Republicans support cutting is foreign aid. On everything from Social Security to education to crime prevention to scientific research, more spending is preferred.

Just the other day, I was telling my class that if Americans had more of a clue on things, maybe public opinion would look quite different.  I’d argue that when it comes to government spending, that’s doubly true for Republicans.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to No real conservatives

  1. David says:

    Stimson calls these conservatives who say in the abstract that they support spending cuts but in reality do not “conflicted conservatives,” or conservatives who are operationally liberal but symbolically conservative. I think conflicted is actually the wrong label–it implies that they are weighing more spending vs. more taxes and are actually conflicted about such a choice. Confused or misinformed would be a better descriptor. They might actually be conflicted between the trade-offs! But more likely than not they are Republican identifiers who are not aware of how much the government spends on things, but like buzzwords like cutting government spending, debt reduction, etc. Unlike you or me, they do not spend the time to wade through Ezra Klein or CBPP for hours.

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