Our goal at PolitiFact is to use the Truth-O-Meter to show the relative accuracy of a political claim. In this case, we rated it Mostly True because we felt that while the number was short of a majority, it was still a plurality. 40 percent of Americans consider themselves conservative, 35 percent moderate and 21 percent liberal. It wasn’t quite a majority, but was close.
PolitiFact chief Bill Adair • Responding to some aggressive criticism from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, over PolititFact’s rating of Marco Rubio’s claim that “a majority of Americans are conservatives.” The polling used by PolitiFact to score the claim proved that, in fact, only 40% of Americans self-identify as conservative — not a majority. However, they rated his claim “mostly true,” the stated justification being “conservatives are the largest ideological group, but they don’t cross the 50 percent threshold.” PolitiFact has been the subject of some derision lately, with the spotlight turned on them after their controversial 2011 “Lie Of The Year” selection, about which Bill Adair authored a rather prickly, underwhelming defense. Earlier this week, they got some criticism over debunking a claim from an episode of “Glee.” Frankly, PolitiFact’s ratings have always brought with them a measure of subjectivity, as you might find with any media arbiter; it’s their own lofty title that makes this an issue. Majorities aren’t pluralities. For a fact-checker, that’s just a dictionary search away. source(via • follow)