Most Americans are centrists, study finds

Dylan Stableford
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President Barack Obama speaks about the the budget and the partial government shutdown, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, in the Brady Press Room of the White House in Washington. The president said he told House Speaker John Boehner he's willing to negotiate with Republicans on their priorities, but not under the threat of "economic chaos." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

You wouldn't know it from listening to Congress or watching cable news, but most Americans are not as ideologically divided as some might suggest.

According to a survey commissioned by NBC News and Esquire magazine released Tuesday, a majority of American voters (51 percent) fall into what the study — conducted by lead pollsters for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's campaigns — identified as the ideological center: minivan moderates, pickup populists, the MBA-earning middle and the hashtag-using #whatever man.

Roughly 6 in 10 (58 percent) of those respondents say they are pessimistic about American politics, and more than 44 percent feel their ideas are not represented by Republicans or Democrats.

And just what are those ideas?

A majority (57 percent) of centrists support ending affirmative action in hiring decisions and college admissions, are in favor (52 percent) of legalizing marijuana and mostly (59 percent) think feel religion should have no role in politics. A larger percentage (64 percent), meanwhile, support gay marriage and the right to an abortion for any reason within the first trimester (63 percent). And a vast majority (76 percent) of centrists "believe that the U.S. should no longer be the world’s policeman."

The study found 45 percent of this group support background checks for gun purchases (34 percent own a gun or have a gun in their household) and 54 percent "feel the Constitution cannot provide guidance to modern problems facing us now."

And while a strong majority (66 percent) of centrists say that America is still the greatest country in the world, none of the 2,410 respondents (0 percent) was willing to label the state of the American economy “excellent."

“People feel eroded,” Democratic pollster Daniel Franklin, who helped conduct the study, said. “They’ve seen the strength of the middle class wane, and correspondingly, the country as a whole begin to falter.”

Click here to explore the full results and here to take Esquire's interactive quiz, "Are you in the new American center?"