The Questionable Authority

A Weekend Ideological Survey

The Center For American Progress recently released the results of a political positions survey. They asked respondents to rate their level of agreement with 40 questions on a scale of 0-10, with 0 at the ‘disagree’ end of the spectrum. They converted each person’s responses into a numerical value (that they call a ‘composite ideology measure’) between 0 and 400.

They’ve also put the online version of the survey up on their website. I came in as “extremely progressive” (although I still swear I’m a moderate), with a score of 315/400. If you take the survey, I’d be very interested to hear what your score is. Let me know in the comments. If you’re not an American, I’d appreciate it if you mention that, too.

The Center for American Progress’ findings are below the jump.

The results are probably going to be a disappointment to the people who say that we’re a “center-right” nation. They’re also going to be a bit of a letdown to the people who think we’re “center-left” – they’re more right correct, and we do seem to be showing clear movement in that direction. At the moment, though, based on the results of this survey, it really looks like we’re a “center-center” nation. The mean “ideology measure” for the nation in this survey was 209.5. Technically, that is on the “progressive” side of a 0-400 scale, but it’s pretty close to the center.

I’m going to have a little more to say about the survey, and about some of the things said in the report early next week. (I think there’s a clear tie-in with one of my posts from yesterday.)

HT: Backreaction


  1. #1 Bob O'H
    March 14, 2009

    I got 309 – I think of my self as a middle-of-the-road social democrat. And I’m European, which I think makes me a raging socialist.

  2. #2 alias Ernest Major
    March 14, 2009

    257 (very progressive). I think of myself as centre-right(“one nation conservative”).

    I’m in the UK.

  3. #3 Matt Springer
    March 14, 2009

    99/400 – “Extremely conservative”

    I’d bet dollars to donuts that I have the lowest score among ScienceBloggers.

  4. #4 Markk
    March 14, 2009

    As usual they put things together in answers such that I agreed with one and not with the other. The two dimensional groove is so old. I don’t like things like this that preserve that viewpoint. It leads to if you are not for us you are against us type things where people are all over the place on issues.

  5. #5 Dr. Kate
    March 14, 2009

    I got 312. I agree with Markk that several of the questions were poorly phrased. I kept finding myself thinking “do they mean in reality or ideally?”

  6. #6 alaskawolfw
    March 14, 2009

    got 307, so another raging Eurpoean socialist

  7. #7 afarensis
    March 14, 2009

    313 which sounds about right…

  8. #8 Aranae
    March 14, 2009

    I would definitely call myself a moderate, but I came in at 268 and “very progressive”. I think it’s a bit like the quiz at where everyone who takes it is a libertarian. Word things correctly and people will agree with you.

  9. #9 Roadtripper
    March 14, 2009

    Oh, futz. I got 348/400. Should I re-take the quiz, or just quit pretending I’m not a flaming liberal?


  10. #10 Norm Olsen
    March 14, 2009


  11. #11 John Pieret
    March 14, 2009

    335 out of 400.

    Another commie, God-hating, anti-Merkin’, wine-sipping, nattering nabob of negativism and member of the effete corps of impudent snobs “extremely progressive” American.

  12. #12 Joshua Zelinsky
    March 14, 2009

    263 which apparently is “very progressive.” Many of the questions were poorly phrased or lacking context.

  13. #13 Eamon Knight
    March 14, 2009

    323 makes me an “extremely progressive” Canadian. On some questions I wasn’t sure whether to answer it as “What I think America should do” or to s/America/Canada/.

  14. #14 Martin
    March 14, 2009

    331/400. Extremely progressive, and not the least bit embarrassed by that.

  15. #15 Richard
    March 14, 2009

    260 “very progressive”. Canadian.

  16. #16 Caryn
    March 14, 2009

    333/400, American. But the statements were not necessarily matters of opinion; there’s no sensible way to disagree with the claim that corporations have a primary obligation to their shareholders. Whether or not they *should* is different from whether or not they *do*. And the whole quiz suffers from this problem.

  17. #17 Joshua Zelinsky
    March 14, 2009

    Caryn, agreed. Many of the questions were ones where I wanted to be able to say “Yes, but…”

  18. #18 Pierce R. Butler
    March 14, 2009

    By refusing to take the test (based on critiques above), do I automatically score a 0 and get to call myself a rabid reactionary?

  19. #19 Rod J
    March 14, 2009

    367/400. English (but from a multi-national family). Very proud to be “progressive” but I’d define myself as sensible….

  20. #20 Llano Escantado
    March 14, 2009

    312/400, Extremely Progressive, southern American.

    Add me to the “Yes, but…” category of respondents.

  21. #21 Sili
    March 14, 2009

    Only 326. Danish.

    Not entirely fair since it effectively asks me what I feel others should do with their lives.

  22. #22 BaldApe
    March 14, 2009

    353. “Frakkin’ communist bastard”

    Hey Roadtripper, can we get together for a beer or two?

    The biggest fault I see with the survey (and maybe this is me) is that I was inclined to say “bullshit” to the conservative statements, and sometimes a little skeptical of liberal ones. IOW, I would score “The world would be a better place if we just killed all the fags” as 0, but “Welfare makes people dumb and lazy” as 7.

  23. #23 Will TS
    March 14, 2009

    373. American. Do I win some sort of prize?

  24. #24 Your mother
    March 14, 2009

    341 – American

  25. #25 Nomen Nescio
    March 14, 2009

    349/400. but then, i do proudly call myself a social democrat.

  26. #26 Toaster
    March 15, 2009

    320. First generation American.

  27. #27 natural cynic
    March 15, 2009

    332. Thinking about how I would have answered the questionnaire 40 years ago, I have lost about 0.5 points/year.

  28. #28 Anton Mates
    March 15, 2009

    380. I grew up in Berkeley.

  29. #29 William
    March 15, 2009

    241, “progressive”. Canadian conservative.

  30. #30 Janne
    March 15, 2009

    330. I am more or less a centrist, leaning conservative – but that’s in Sweden so the baseline is a little different I guess.

  31. #31 Rob Jase
    March 15, 2009

    316 but I still say I’m a moderate.

  32. #32 JakeS
    March 15, 2009

    367, Scandinavian. Would have been higher if I had graded based on the dog-whistles and not on the face value. Also, a couple of questions were kind of inapplicable “corporations have a primary obligation to the profit of their shareholders” is not an “agree-disagree” question, it’s a “wtf do we want to have corporations for?” question.

    But then, as a card-carrying syndicalist I am well beyond the American political spectrum anyway.

    – Jake

  33. #33 Rien
    March 15, 2009

    325. Scandinavian but have lived in California for several years. Some questions were impossible to answer on a scale, though.

  34. #34 trog69
    March 15, 2009

    362. Whew, I’m glad a few of you also had over 350 scores, so I can proudly show off all the stains from my bleeding heart.

  35. #35 Austen Redman
    March 16, 2009

    285 – English – Lower than I was expecting. Does my religious faith make the difference I wonder?

  36. #36 Christophe Thill
    March 23, 2009

    333. I’m French, and of course godless, and it is interesting to note that 333 = 666 / 2.

    I gave lukewarm answers to questions like “the goal of big corporations is to make money for their shareholders”. Because it actually is. Which doesn’t mean that I totally like it. But it is. And it’s very likely that trying to impose them such goals as “improving society” wouldn’t work very well.

  37. #37 jay
    March 28, 2009

    365 – I self-identify as slightly left of center (for a Canadian)

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