I am most comfortable when I have some data. For this blog I have used some media circulation data which is notoriously unreliable.
So how big is the real Left in America?
I would have to put the number somewhere around 30 to 40 million people. I base this on the perpetual 30% of survey respondents who say they support Barack Obama, regardless of what he says or does. Those surveys are based on people who voted. The actual vote for Obama in 2012 was over 60 million. I have reduced the final number of Lefties because many studies I have done indicate a habitual voting pattern on the part of a large percentage of voters. The remaining voters actually express strong support for their candidate as evidenced in opinion surveys.
Of this 30 million Lefties, where do most of them get their information?
By definition, I consider a sincere Leftist to be someone who reads the New York Times and the New Yorker. That is a tiny population. Even if it includes people who read the New Yorker in the dentist office. That is roughly 1,000,000 people based on the circulation of both the Times and the magazine. We can add to that the people who look at the New York Times digitally and look at stories in the New Yorker periodically. Despite the unreliability of media data, we get an additional million and a half digital readers. A total of hard core informed Lefties of under 3 million people. They are the core of 30-40 million Lefty sympathizers.
Why do I personally know so many of these people?. By definition: I live in a Lefty city and my friends are disproportionately educated readers.
What is the maximum number of people who can be considered core Lefties? There is another 20 million people who listen to NPR regularly. That includes the under 3 million who read the NY Times and the New Yorker.
The really interesting question is how does this small number of people in the immediate NYTimes and New Yorker Lefty circle have so much influence?
Of course they have a disproportionate influence in academia based on survey data and in journalism, based on survey data. But we have only academia and media at the level of 100,000 people who directly influence the next 3 million people who indirectly influence another 30+ million people.
What are the mechanisms? I don’t know. I know that circles of friends, sociologically speaking, demand coherence of values. That doesn’t explain much.
Before you become upset by these numbers. There are only two comparable numbers we have for the opposition to Leftism. The number of people who look at national print news that is not the New York Times is over 6 million when you include the USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. The comparable radio audience is Rush Limbaugh and two other conservative talk radio celebrities whose audience exceeds 25 million. They reach about 70 million people who strongly oppose Obama currently in surveys. In the 2014 over 40 million of them voted in a new Republican government.
The conservative non-Lefty world is significantly larger than the Lefty world and certainly the new Congress demonstrates its potency at the grassroots level. But the ability to influence public discussion at the media level is far behind.
I don't know ofreliable data concerning information distributed via the Internet. That must play a significant role as a source of news and information for both the Left and the non-Left.