American voters are a contradictory bunch: They say they want social welfare, but don't want to pay for it. They claim they are left-leaning, but vote for center-right candidates. Only candidates who can appeal to both sides stand a chance. …
One option is to listen to the candidates and their advisors malign each other. When it comes to name-calling, the worst labels that have been tossed around to date have been "monster" (an epithet that was applied to Hillary Clinton) and "Judas" (the word that was used to describe Bill Richardson, who was appointed US ambassador to the United Nations by Bill Clinton but who endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination). As spring temperatures rise, the level of civility is apparently falling.
The second option is to listen to the people, to the way they express their views through the lens of opinion polls. In recent weeks, tens of thousands of US citizens of both genders and of all races, age groups and income classes have been polled to gauge their mood and political preferences.
The results say that America is divided, but not just into North and South, black and white, poor and rich. The two Americas appearing on the pollsters' radar screens coexist in the political brain of every voter. The findings are clear: the desires of American citizens contradict their fundamental convictions. … By Gabor Steingart in Washington, Spiegel International