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