Studying the highly interesting Pew Typology Report, you understand why this Harris poll, while useful for providing a long-term time-line, ultimately hides more than it shows. More detailed "politico-graphics" of opinion polling is necessary for us to get past the propaganda-loaded terms Liberal, Conservative and Independent. We should also demand better geographic disaggregation, in which case we would notice that "value-identified liberals" make up 33% of the voters in certain North Eastern and Western states, like New York, Massachussetts, California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado.
The Clinton era "move to the center" might have assured Bill's reelection in 1996 because he was able to maintain his appeal with certain moderate voters, but Bush, Rove & company have been able to consolidate the Republican base meaning that this strategy of playing just defense is 10 years out-of-date.
What can we do? Be proud of being liberal for one.
Consolidate the Democratic Base by addressing populist economic issues.
Split the Independents by being the party of personal-privacy and "get the government out of the bedroom".
Use Universal Health Care for a multi-election strategy so this issue will forever be seen as owned by the Democratic party, just like Social Security for 60 years. History is on our side. Hell, even business is on our side on this one.
Be confident of our "good government" meme, in opposition to their "anti-government" meme. People are willing to pay more in taxes if they know what they are paying for.
Liberal used to mean moserate; and what the hell is a "progressive". Haven't read the book, yet (obviously).
But, I had to laugh about the description of the Democrats as being controlled by a bunch of "greying liberals". That image isn't much different from 30 years ago, when being a liberal was an insult, meaning died-in-the-wool establishment-moderate, what today would be known as the DNC.
The insurrection of the 60s-70s was well-repelled by the "liberal?" power centers of the Democratic Party. Just as Labor repelled real reformers.
But, I'm actually much more optimistic today. Those "establishment-liberals" are less monolithic than 30 years ago. "Liberal-liberals" make up a much larger percentage of the US population ("values-liberals" have doubled since 1990!). Extra-party activist groups are more self-aware and can turn out both money and bodies.
Sort of like a snake eating its own tail, the DNC is now just the shrivelled remains, the Custer's last stand of establishment-liberals, to mix a metaphor.