One of the smartest minds in politics is Chris Hayes, currently the Washington editor of The Nation magazine,
First, I don’t know what a center-right nation means. I mean, I don’t think it’s a center-right nation just because it’s such an ambiguous term. There’s a way that things are interpreted in Washington particularly among the beltway pundants. It always involves the same thing — that there’s a script that everyone already has that ‘liberals overreach’, they try to go too far and then they are punished becuase they’ve strayed from the fact that this is a center-right nation and they have to do things like impose spending freezes. And, actually, the data doesn’t even support that. I mean, if you want to look at what has happened in public opinion. A lot of the public opinion is populist anger at the banks. A lot of it is frustration at the fact that things aren’t getting done. A lot of it is anger at unemployment. And the problem is that with the way everything is coded, there are very good, sensible, practical liberal solutions to these problems that are taken off the table precisely because they are seen as symbols of overreach.
Not only is this a brilliant way of viewing politics in general, it speaks to the general misconception of voter intentions when reviewing just about any election results. For anyone who claims to be either a liberal or conservative, you should get used to something. Neither the right or the left control this country, the independents do. Independents determine the outcome of elections, not the party faithful.