Liberal Ideas Are Not As Popular As You Think

A new PBS/Marist poll is out, and it shows that Americans are generally in love with liberal ideas. Hooray!

But don’t get too excited yet. Americans say they like lots of things when they’re asked out of the blue, but in the real world the other side gets to weigh in before opinions become solidified. Because of this, there’s a rule of thumb that a political proposition doesn’t truly have majority support until it polls at about two-thirds or better. This is a pretty good rule of thumb, and with that in mind here are the results of the poll:

Background checks for gun owners is a no-brainer. An optional version of Medicare for All is a strong contender, and government control of prescription drug prices is a close call, but probably pretty popular.

And that’s it. There are a few more ideas on the list that might be good campaign fodder depending on how they’re presented, but they aren’t likely to be hugely popular selling points. As for the rest, just forget it. Any candidate who truly believes in them should feel free to say so, but no one should fool themselves into thinking that big majorities support them.

At the bottom of the list, by the way, are five items that poll at levels less than about one-third. In real life, the number of people who really, seriously support them is probably on the order of 10-15 percent. They are total losers, period.

BY THE WAY: These are all liberal ideas. Why didn’t Marist poll any conservative ideas?


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.