Friday, May 24, 2024

I’m frustrated with “right track-wrong track” polling — well, maybe more specifically, media coverage of it. It always seems to be presented as poor numbers reflecting badly on the president. But if I’m asked that question, I will say “wrong track” but because of the G.O.P. threat to democracy. Any way to fix that? — Jack Cowan

To be honest, Jack, I’ve never been a big fan of the question and we don’t always ask it. That said, I do think it has its place: It’s useful to have a longstanding rough proxy for the national mood, even if it doesn’t yield any insight into the “why.” For that, we have other questions.

The term “conservatives” used to have a specific political meaning. But today what are they conserving? I believe the media needs to adopt more accurate terms to call them, such as right wing populists, or right wing ideologues, or right wing radicals. What they are practicing is no longer true conservatism. Am I wrong? Thank you. — Don Nations

I don’t think I agree that “conservative” has always had a consistent, specific and clear political meaning. “Liberal” and “progressive” haven’t had consistent, specific and clear political meanings either.

And at least to my mind, today’s conservatives are still true to the most basic definition: a political ideology aimed at conserving a traditional way of life — customs, culture, ideas, institutions, hierarchies, values, beliefs and more.

Clearly, some conservatives today see tension between preserving certain traditional institutions — like a democratic republic, which risks empowering those opposed to conservatives — and other conservative aims. But this is not exactly unprecedented in the conservative tradition: Beyond “radical” or “populist” that you offered, terms like reactionary or counterrevolutionary have also been used to describe conservatives who aren’t so conservative in defense of some long-established values.

Do the polls reflect an increasing popularity for Trump among the young, Black or Hispanic voter sets?

I hear a great deal about disaffection toward Biden. But does that mean they are happy or enthusiastic about Trump? — Bryan Watson

It does not mean they’re happy or enthusiastic about Mr. Trump. In fact, most of the voters who backed President Biden in 2020, but have backed Mr. Trump in recent New York Times/Siena College polling, do not have a favorable view of Mr. Trump at all. They’re also far less likely to say they’ll actually vote, or to have a record of doing so in the past.

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