A Plurality of Americans Self-Identify as Conservative. What’s New?

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Friday, June 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm

According to new numbers from Gallup, more than four in ten Americans describe themselves as conservative, significantly more than the 35 percent who describe themselves as moderate, and more than double the 20 percent who describe themselves as liberal.  If this holds for the rest of the year, the 42 percent of self-identified conservatives would be a record high for Gallup in its nearly 20 years of asking the question, which seems to hint at a conservative revival.

That said, it’s worth looking at the historical trends for this survey, to see if this is really as unusual as it seems. Here are more data from Gallup:

Forty-two percent is the highest percentage in a long time, but it’s not much higher than last year — when 40 percent of Americans self-identified as conservative — and only somewhat higher than 2006 and 2008, when 37 percent of Americans self-identified as conservative. And if you take this in addition to the recent NBC/Wall Street Journal survey on ideology — where 38 percent of Americans self-identified as conservative — it’s not clear that there’s actually anything different about Gallup’s results. Americans always prefer to describe themselves as moderate or conservative, even when (as was the case in 1992 and 2008) they deliver the majority of their votes to liberal congressional majorities and presidential candidates.

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26 Comments

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MYMY
Comment posted June 25, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

Human beings are naturally 'conservative', in the sense that they feel comfortable with what they already know.

What these self-identified conservatives don't realize about so-called conservatives is just how radical and extremist they are. Do 'conservative' people actually believe we would all be better off without ANY regulations, as Rand Paul just suggested? Would the really like to lose their Bill of Rights protections, subjecting themselves to their neighbor's whims, their government's torture??

Ask them those questions, then take your survey.


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webcelt
Comment posted June 25, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

Ask them about issues, without the ideological label, and the majority comes out moderate to liberal, which helps explain recent years' elections. Conservatives have dedicated themselves to decades of demonizing the word “liberal” and greatly succeeded.

Know what else these self-identification polls never do? Include “progressive” as one of the options. Many liberals have bought in to the demonization of “liberal”, and call themselves “progressive”, though there's no point. That word is being demonized too. It just hasn't been propagandized against nearly as long. If we don't fight for our words, conservatives will piss all over them.


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Irish_Wake
Comment posted June 26, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

Since modern conservatives define themselves any way they want, without regard to liberties or freedom, it is logical to assume every man, woman, child, dog, and cat in America are conservatives.

If you ask if they support the viewpoints common to people such as Hamilton, Madison, or Jefferson, most of these folk would start ranting about fascist-communism.


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Comment posted March 18, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

I think that you are exactly wrong. I identify myself as a conservative and I find that on most issues, my liberal friends and I agree or are close. I actually think that many identify as liberals because it makes them feel good about themselves to be liberal (don’t want to identify with those nasty rich white people that have screwed everything up). Of course conservatives dont believe that there should be no regulations. This is hype on your part. I am not a supporter of his, but this is not what Rand Paul believes. Conservatives beleive that the Federal government has to live with the constraints of the constitution or we need to change it. What liberals seem to want is to subvert the constitution’s intent whenever they feel that a program is “worthy” enough. I say if it is a powerful enough idea it will win the day and we could amend. You want what you want without having to actually win the argument. That is Tyranny my friend.


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