I am actually a big believer in labels and I’ve written many times that I think people who say they don’t believe in labels are essentially ashamed, embarrassed or otherwise uncomfortable with admitting they are liberals of one stripe or another. In Washington I meet scores of successful professionals (particularly journalists) who swear they are moderates or fiscally conservative but socially liberal. Let’s leave the second part for another day since we’ve batted that around in here so many times. But these self-described moderates are very, very often simply liberals but who have a real problem saying so.
For these and related reasons I’m a bit dubious that all of these people who tell exit-pollsters that they’re moderates are, in fact, moderates. Many probably are. Also there’s the whole dull but complex issue of figuring out what a moderate actually is. But I’d bet a statistically super-significant chunk are just too ashamed to admit they’re liberals.