James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Where do you stand politically?

Posted by James McPherson on April 26, 2010

It’s been around for awhile, I’d never taken “the world’s smallest political quiz,” produced by the  libertarian Advocates for Self-Government, until today. I wasn’t surprised at the outcome (Hmm, I’m a liberal? Who knew?), but find the quiz interesting because of how it attempts to go beyond simple left/right dichotomy.

I also appreciate the Political Compass, which tries to do the same (though with a longer quiz). Neither quiz is perfect, of course (for example, I think I’ve moved slightly on the Political Compass since I last took it more than a year ago), and both are oversimplifications in their own ways. But both tell a bit more than the simple liberal/conservative continuum that too often seems to exemplify modern American politics. You can see my unsurprising (to me, at least) but seemingly consistent results below (the red dots represent where I fell on each scale):

Oh, and by the way–if you want more support for my regular claim that Barack Obama is not a liberal, below is how the Political Compass folks ranked him and others during the last primary season. He may be liberal compared to any of the Republicans, but not compared to most Americans:

US Primaries Chart 2008

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6 Responses to “Where do you stand politically?”

  1. i’m…unnerved. i just took T.W.S.P.Q. & it told me i’m a centrist (inclined left).

    maybe i’m just unnerved because only yesterday i was termed an uberliberal/socialist? of course, i WAS talking to a self-termed Teabagger, whose criteria for seeing if i was an uberliberal/socialist was whether i had voted for Obama and if i would do so again, but still…

  2. James McPherson said

    Gee, and I thought you were a committed liberal. 🙂 But your comment reminded me just how far right the right-wingers tend to be, and prompted me to add another graph to the post above–thanks, Gabrielle.

  3. i probably would call myself a liberal, if only because i very rarely hear the term ‘centrist’ used :P…

    and that’s a very…interesting…new graph…o.o

  4. James McPherson said

    I also just checked the Political Compass rankings of states (using each state’s two senators). Every single one was in that same upper-right authoritarian-right quadrant.
    And lest folks think that’s just normal for Americans (after all, a couple of Brits did the thing), we had more than 200 students take the quiz it in a Core class. As you know students here hardly seem liberal, but more of them were in the lower-left quadrant than in any other. And I don’t think that’s just because folks in the upper right were more likely to hold their graphs upside-down. 🙂

  5. […] complained in the past about how America’s leaders were more conservative than the people they pretend to serve. But as long as corporations have more political power and […]

  6. […] and ThinkProgress (both organizations that come closer to having socialist views than does the current conservative in the White House), unless Koch brothers buddy Scott Walker heads a socialist state. The big […]

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