What must be the most ridiculous claim of the night's Iowa caucus coverage came on CNN when political analyst Bill Schneider argued that because only 16 percent of Democrats who showed up to caucus call themselves "very liberal," that these Democrats are "pretty moderate voters," but that Republican voters are "very conservative." Schneider based his claims simply on how voters chose to identify themselves for CNN's entrance poll of those who arrived to caucus: "The Democrats are moderate. Only about 16 percent of them call themselves 'very liberal.' There's a cliche that only liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans show up. That's half true. Republicans are very conservative. Almost half of them say they are 'very conservative.' But Democrats are pretty moderate voters." (Transcript follows)
At 8:55 p.m., anchor Wolf Blitzer turned to Schneider and correspondent Soledad O'Brien, as they presented some of the findings of CNN's entrance poll. O'Brien asked Schneider whether these voters are "very liberal" or "very conservative." While Schneider described Republican voters as "very conservative," he ignored the tendency by many liberals to shun calling themselves "liberal" as he seemed to accept that Democratic voters are "pretty moderate" because only 16 percent described themselves as "very liberal."
Below is a transcript of the relevant exchange from the January 3 CNN coverage of the Iowa caucuses:
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: The ideology of the people that we've seen so far in these entrance poll numbers, are they very liberal? Are they very conservative?
BILL SCHNEIDER: They're different. The Democrats are moderate. Only about 16 percent of them call themselves "very liberal." There's a cliche that only liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans show up. That's half true. Republicans are very conservative. Almost half of them say they are "very conservative." But Democrats are pretty moderate voters.