In the short time that Jimmy Carter has been in the White House, the percentage of Americans who see him as a liberal has declined, while the percentage who now believe that he is middle-of-the-road or conservative has sharply increased.
Last year, on the eve of the election, 30 per cent of the public believed Carter was a liberal. Now, no more than 15 per cent feel the same way, according to the latest survey of 1,625 adults. During the same period, the percentage who view him as a middle-of-the-roader has jumped to 41 per cent from 32 per cent and the percentage who consider him conservative has risen to 26 per cent from 17.
To a lesser extent, the same trend has taken place in the public's perception of Vice President Mondale. The percentage of those who feel he is a liberal has diminished to 19 per cent from 33 per cent while the percentage who believe he is a middle-of-the-roader has gone up to 26 per cent from 23 per cent, and the percentage who view him as a conservative has risen to 15 per cent from 11 per cent.
In the case of Mondale, those uncertain of his political views has also gone up to 37 per cent from 30 per cent, reflecting the relatively low profile that the Vice President has maintained. Of those who feel they can identify his political stance, 30 per cent now see him as liberal, marking a continuing decline from the 6 to 10 who felt that way when Mondale was first picked for the vice presidency.
Despite the overall shifts in perception of the President's position on the political spectrum, Carter maintains his knack of being all things to all men. Conservative continue to think of him as conservative, middle-of-the-roaders consider him one of their own, and liberals see him as liberal.
For example, among people who identify themselves as conservatives, 47 per cent feel that Mr. Carter is a conservative, while no more than 26 per cent of the total public does. The some pattern holds true for selfdescribed liberals and moderates.