For years, conservative commentators on the Fox News Channel and elsewhere have said that the United States is a “center right” country. They seem to say it more insistently when the voters elect a left-wing Democrat as President.

But James Rainey, a commentator at the Los Angeles Times, has made a reasonable case, by looking at the recent election results and the exit polling data on voters’ attitudes, that the United States is becoming a “center-libertarian” country. The title of his piece: “Has America Gone from Center-Right to Center Libertarian?”

An excerpt:

After 32 straight losses for same-sex wedding laws, four states approved marriage-equality proposals last week. Two other states legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Wisconsin elected the first openly homosexual U.S. senator in history, Tammy Baldwin. An Iowa Supreme Court justice targeted for removal because he voted in 2007 to approve gay marriage, David Wiggins, defeated an effort to oust him. And, crucially, Obama won with 60% of voters telling exit pollsters they supported the president’s call for higher taxes on the rich.

But Americans appear to remain more receptive to conservative viewpoints on spending, debt and the size of government. A bare majority, 51%, of voters last Tuesday told exit pollsters that government should do less, with 43% saying it should do more.

The item jarringly out of place, of course, is the data on voters wanting to tax “the rich” even more heavily. But Rainey catches this. His conclusion:

A more precise verdict would be that the majority of the country remains slightly right of center when it comes to supporting lower spending, decreased debt and smaller government. But America appears to have shifted left of center in allowing more liberal policies on drugs and the institution of marriage. So, left on social issues and right on economics. If you eliminated the desire to tax the rich, it would sound like we had a center-libertarian nation.

HT to David Boaz.