Saturday, January 11, 2014

SATURDAY POLITICS: Gallup Poll Says Americans 23% Liberal, 34% Moderate, 38% Conservative

The latest Gallup poll indicates that the percentage of Americans who identify as Liberal has reached an all-time high of 23%. That's the good news, but the bad news is that the percentage who identify as conservative is still the plurality in America, at 38%, a full four percentage points ahead of the moderate fraction of the population.

Gallup summarizes the implication of the polls as reflecting the increase in political polarization we have experienced recently.
Americans' perceptions of their political views -- if not the views themselves -- are undergoing unmistakable change, contributing to greater political polarization in the country. Now, the plurality of Democrats consider themselves to be politically liberal, whereas a decade ago, Democrats were most likely to say they were moderate. That could be because Democrats are now more comfortable calling themselves "liberal" -- a term that was less popular in the recent past -- even if their current and past views on issues are similar. But it could also reflect an evolution in their views to favor more traditionally liberal issue positions.
Meanwhile, Republicans, who have always been overwhelmingly conservative, have become increasingly so. One manifestation of that may have been a series of primary election challenges for long-serving GOP members of Congress by candidates aligned with the Tea Party movement.
These data confirm the tendency for Americans who identify with the two major parties to be more ideologically homogeneous than was the case in the past, a tendency that appears to be matched by the increasing polarization between Democratic and Republican members of Congress.
The changes in ideological identification among party groups has resulted in a rise in the percentage of Americans overall who call themselves liberal and a decrease in the percentage of moderates. Even though the percentage of conservatives has generally held steady, the rise in liberal identification leaves conservatives with their smallest advantage over liberals in the last two decades. If the trends in Democratic self-identification continue, that gap will likely continue to shrink over time, and could lead to further polarization in U.S. politics.
Hat/tip to Talking Points Memo.

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