August 17, 2009

40% of Americans now call themselves "conservative" or "very conservative," while only 21% say they are "liberal" or "very liberal."

A new Gallup poll.

57 comments:

John Lynch said...

Liberals don't call themselves liberal. I don't know why, but a lot of people with the same beliefs call themselves "moderate" or "progessive." Kind of odd for an ideology with so many adherents and so much impact, but there it is.

Also, actually being in power is bad for an ideology. People who believed in it get disillusioned, people who oppose it are energized.

TRO said...

"Liberals don't call themselves liberal."

I believe this is true. But it's because they know liberal carries a negative image/meaning now because the petty liberals of today are not the great liberals of yesterday.

So they changed to "progressive" just like they changed from global warming to climate change.

It's just the same ole crap wrapped in a different package though and people aren't buying it anymore.

Compassionate Libertarian said...

This brings to mind the 2004 debates when President Bush would respond to a moderate-sounding statement from Kerry by saying, "Remember, people call him the 'liberal' senator from Massachusetts."

This is not your typical insult - though it was effective.

former law student said...

A higher percentage of people call themselves liberals now than during the Clinton administration, according to the Gallup article from two months ago:


PRINCETON, NJ -- Thus far in 2009, 40% of Americans interviewed in national Gallup Poll surveys describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. This represents a slight increase for conservatism in the U.S. since 2008, returning it to a level last seen in 2004. The 21% calling themselves liberal is in line with findings throughout this decade, but is up from the 1990s.

Most liberals consider themselves to be Moderates, perhaps because their beliefs are echoed by employees of the mainstream media.

Peter S. said...

I'm not sure what the purpose -- or at least the power -- of that "now" is in the post title. The strength of the "conservative" label is not some new phenomenon.

Indeed, according to Gallup , the "conservative" numbers haven't fallen below 36% in the last fifteen years, while "liberal" numbers haven't broken 22% -- though the upward trend there does seem to be slightly more visible. The real flip-flopping is between people who call themselves "moderate" and self-described "conservatives."

So, very little news here. "Now" is just today's "then."

AllenS said...

I'm more interested in how many people classify themselves as wingnut or moonbat. I'll bet there's more wingnuts around.

WV: tronini

Christ, typical moonbat, wouldn't you know it.

Alex said...

Not all self-identified moderates are left wing. I'd say it's 50/50.

Chase said...

Alex,

I believe there for Independents it may be 50/50.

But moderates are more likely 40 right/60 left or even 35/65.

Elliott A said...

Wingnut is by far the superior state, since they always screw on rather than being screwed into.

Sadly, it is just part of the continual attempt by the lunatic fringe on the left to marginalize the ideas of the middle of the road type on the right by calling them a dirty name whenever they espouse a conservative notion.

Alex said...

I believe there for Independents it may be 50/50.

But moderates are more likely 40 right/60 left or even 35/65.


Political affiliation and ideology are not the same thing. Sure there is overlap between moderate and independent and left-wing. But that's not what's being discussed here.

Bottom line, a majority of the country is not left wing.

ricpic said...

"It's been all downhill for conservatives since Tom Jefferson decided to give his slaves nap breaks."

--A People's History Of The United States by Howard Zinn

SteveR said...

The only number that counts is the 53% of Americans who voted for the most liberal United States senator to be president.

I don't care what you call yourself.

MadisonMan said...

Bad link for the Gallup Poll.

I hope a followup question was: What does it mean to be Conservative, or very Conservative, or Liberal or Very Liberal.

Affixing a label to oneself is quite easy if you're not asked to really pin down what it means.

Sloanasaurus said...

The conservative/liberal divide is easily shown in the differences between Obama and Reagan. Reagan used to use quips and rhetoric to explain his conservatism. In contrast, Obama uses quips and rhetoric to hide his liberalism.

America is historically a conservative country because its founding was conservative - its principles are based on conservative ideology.

Someday, the founding will be repudiated and American civilzation will end. Lets hope that day is far into the future.

Sloanasaurus said...

Affixing a label to oneself is quite easy if you're not asked to really pin down what it means.

Ill make it more simple for you:

Conservatives favor freedom over equality.

Liberals favor equality over freedom.

Big Mike said...

My sense is that many liberals don't always realize how far left of center they are. You will often find them clustered in enclaves -- Hyde Park in Chicago, the Upper West Side, nearly any neighborhood in San Francisco (and from there down to San Jose), etc. Since everybody they know is either like them or to their left, they believe themselves to be "moderate."

If Gallup wants to find out where people really sit they'll make up a test to see how they really feel. Something like the following:

How do you feel about George W. Bush?
._
|_| Worst president ever.
._
|_| Underrated.
._
|_| I thank God for such a man.
._
|_| Isn't he the guy that Clinton beat?

About 20 more questions like that and you'd have a good handle on where the person lines up.

MadisonMan said...

sloan, I doubt that was asked in the survey.

Bart DePalma said...

This is pretty simple really.

Conservatives are comfortable with who they are and don't give a damn what others think.

Many liberals desperately care what others think of them and pretend to be someone else when they perceive that others think ill of them.

If you think this take is mistaken, ask yourself which ideology governs their foreign policy by whether the rest of the world "respects" them and which ideology is identified by its cowboy unilateralism.

bagoh20 said...

AllenS said...
"I'm more interested in how many people classify themselves as wingnut or moonbat. I'll bet there's more wingnuts around."


This difference is very real. Both terms are about equally derisive, but most wingnuts, like myself, would not fight the label anywhere near as much as the average moonbat. We also don't mind being call "hillbillies", "right wingers", etc. We know empirically that those values and political directions are correct and proven by history.

I suspect that moonbats don't have the same confidence since their ideas and policies are based in feelings and have lead to disaster and mass murder in many places where they have been implemented and always result in collapse after about 70 years (Europe, Cuba and China are coming due).

I "feel" their shame.

I have a lot of liberal leanings socially, but it's no way to run a government, or an economy.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Was there a category for Marxist?

Jeremy said...

I don't think most Americans know what they are. I would guess most are really more independent than anything else, but one thing is for sure...most certainly aren't the brightest bulbs on the block:

According to a poll last summer, commissioned by the American Bar Association, only one-third of adult Americans can correctly identify the Bill of Rights and fewer than 1 in 10 know it was adopted to protect them against abuses by the Federal Government.

And by the way, I know many people who never refer to themselves as "liberals," even though they adhere to almost every political belief liberals support. (I also live in an area where there are plenty of wing nuts so maybe they just don't want to get them riled up or possibly shot.)

Conservatives love to identify themselves as conservatives for the same reason most who visit this site post comments in lockstep with each other...it makes them feel more secure...and of course, they're just not very bright.

Jeremy said...

Bart DePalma said..."Conservatives are comfortable with who they are and don't give a damn what others think."

Well, you got thing right: they don't "think."

MadisonMan said...

I wonder how many are an amalgam of both? I know many people who are very socially liberal -- Gay Marriage!! No restrictions on abortion!! -- but very very fiscally conservative -- No money for just about anything but National Defense and roads.

Pollsters see a black and white world.

bagoh20 said...

I also think liberals are generally ashamed of the rudeness, and name calling generally resorted to as argument in their ranks.

Us wingnuts revel in their abuse knowing it weakens them with every slur.

AlgonquinS said...

bagoh20 said...
"I suspect that moonbats don't have the same confidence..."

Ain't that the truth. Moonbats are like a Word Verification, without the vowels.

WV: kajul

That's got wingnut written all over it.

AllenS said...

Dang! That should have been from me, AllenS.

WV: baretu

I can go without socks. Ha!

Synova said...

Link goes to Doyle?

Synova said...

LOL.

Because identifying as "liberal" is the same thing as saying "hey, I'm better than you."

Right Jeremy?

bagoh20 said...

I think a majority on the right are actually more libertarian, but those kind of candidates are never offered by the political machinery and religious conservatives are much better organized. A third party is just a bridge to far, often populated by the bizarre. The average conservative/libertarian just wants left alone. That does not lend itself to political activism or organizing, so they remain under represented.

Methadras said...

Jeremy said...

Well, you got thing right: they don't "think."


And the human douche-nozzle quip machine goes on.

Pogo said...

"only 21% say they are "liberal" or "very liberal."

How can there be just 21% liberal when the President, Senate, House, and a great number of governorships are Democratic?

I suspect people don't have any idea of what the words mean.

It would be much more informative if folks took The Political Compass quiz, for example.

c3 said...

The numbers are great... What quarter are we in? (or it innings?)

Matt said...

Misleading post Ann.

We wouldn't have a Democrats running Congress and the White House if this were true on the surface.
Dig deeper and it says:
35% moderate, and 21% liberal.
And that explains why Democrats are running everything.

Moderates [Independent voters] actually control elections.

knox said...

How can there be just 21% liberal when the President, Senate, House, and a great number of governorships are Democratic?

I think there are a lot of people who are conservative, but pull the (D) lever for various, free-floating reasons. My in-laws, for example, were terrified of Social Security reform. They also have vague ideas that things like "Head Start" actually work: they have no critical thinking when it comes to government programs. If the program is supposed to "help people," they don't question it.

But at the same time, they are alarmed at the national debt, are pro-life, and have lots of other conservative traits.

I think there is probably a large swath of people like them: people who identify on the right, but will often vote (D) for a variety of reasons.

Weapon said...

Er, it's all in how the questions are asked. Tell me what you believe is the proper role of government or what kind of policies you support, and I'll decide myself whether you're liberal, moderate, or conservative.

Jeremy said...

MadisonMan said..."I wonder how many are an amalgam of both? I know many people who are very socially liberal -- Gay Marriage!! No restrictions on abortion!! -- but very very fiscally conservative -- No money for just about anything but National Defense and roads."

Exactly.

Jeremy said...

knox said..."How can there be just 21% liberal when the President, Senate, House, and a great number of governorships are Democratic?"

Geeee, let's think about that...hmmm...

Could it be that some Democrats aren't "liberal?

DUH.

Jeremy said...

Methadras - And you immediately prove my point.

What a dummy.

Jeremy said...

Synova - Based on your inane comments I don't think I'm any "better" than you, but I'm one hell of a lot smarter.

How's that?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Synova - Based on your inane comments I don't think I'm any "better" than you, but I'm one hell of a lot smarter

Jeremy you're such a dolt. I have socks that are smarter than you.

Why don't you reduce your carbon footprint and stop wasting our oxygen.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I know many people who are very socially liberal -- Gay Marriage!! No restrictions on abortion!! -- but very very fiscally conservative -- No money for just about anything but National Defense and roads.

Must be on the endangered species list.

Elliott A said...

Imagine that, Jeremy, there are many people who actually form their own opinions instead of just getting the worms from Mama Bird

Matt said...

Hoosier Daddy
Endangered species

I would call them Libertarians. Many Libertarians are for limited government but are rather socially liberal.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I would call them Libertarians. Many Libertarians are for limited government but are rather socially liberal.

Yes and considering how successful they have been in presenting viable candidates, oh, at about any electoral level I think my previous description stands ;-)

bagoh20 said...

Judging from the ugly nature of our little troll, I can only conclude that he is trying to reduce the number identifying as liberal. Who would play with that guy at recess? Maybe he's a double troll. Rove, you magnificent bastard!

Richard said...

Most of the progressive/liberals that I know say that they, "don't like labels." They say this a lot actually.

I have no problem telling people I am a libertarian. But I think that is because I have a firm ideology & philosophy based on the value of individual freedom.

Most of these friends of mine, and they are good friends that I do respect, want to be seen as pragmatic. At least I think they do. They enjoy telling me that they look at the character of each candidate, that they don't just vote straight party lines. They like looking at each issue separately. They generally tell me of one or two issues that they side with conservatives with.

I think it is important to them to be like this, because they want to be unique. They want to be individuals. And if they are labeled, and agree completely with one ideology, then they might lose their individuality and be thought of as a mindless drone.

And I find it very ironic, because they all act this way.

So it goes.

PatCA said...

Given the big push to nationalize everything, the move to conservatism is no surprise. I guess there are still people who remember their US History and Civics classes.

Thank goodness we still have the freedom to move the pendulum back from whence it came.

Eric said...

The only number that counts is the 53% of Americans who voted for the most liberal United States senator to be president.

Sure. But candidate Obama was a whole lot further to the right than President Obama. I have to believe this accounts for, at least part, the slip we've seen in his numbers as people begin to see what his true leanings are.

Personally, I'll be happy when leftists stop calling themselves "liberal". If you support high taxes and a large, overweening state you're not a liberal in the traditional sense of the word or as the word is used in other English speaking countries.

reader_iam said...

I think there are others who get more conservative the farther away, physically, the government gets. That is to say, they like their federal government very limited and their state government pretty limited, in most areas, but are willing to be a bit more expansionist or even liberal on the county, township and city level. This is not just philosophical, but also practical: there's more access to the corridors of power when they're in your neighborhood, or at least w/in reasonable driving distance.

Scott M said...

I love Barbara Boxer's take on who is/isn't liberal or conservative.

She was on the Diane Reams (spelling?) show on NPR during the Alito confirmation. She had just gotten through calling him too conservative to be a good justice. A caller got through the screener (no idea how) and pointedly asked her "if you call Alito too conservative, does that make you a liberal?"

Boxer said something very close to "I prefer to just be Barbara Boxer".

So...lets review.

She embraces a political spectrum with conservative obviously too far to one end, presumably the bad one. Then, when pressed, she sets herself apart from that spectrum in an attempt not to be saddled with the liberal moniker.

Pathetic. As flawed as whats-her-puss ex-ceo HP chic is, I hope she severely trounces Boxer in 2010. Boxer has never been more vulnerable.

Lawgiver said...

I don't think most Americans know what they are.

You're a dickhead Jeremy. Now that you know what you are, consider yourself in the minority.

Glen said...

The link provided goes to the Doyle article posted above.

Revenant said...

Americans are more likely to think of themselves as conservative than liberal simply because the popular news and entertainment media routinely portray solidly left-wing political positions as centrist. So moderates mis-identify as conservative, and liberals as moderates, simply because they're measuring themselves against that standard. E.g., if you don't favor completely unrestricted abortion, why, you must be at *least* center-right.

AST said...

I think a lot of people who considered themselves moderate are deciding that, if Obama and Clinton are moderate, they must be conservative.

I'd like to see a poll on how many found Obama to be more or less liberal, moderate or conservative than they'd expected. Likewise for his intelligence, humility, post-racial, partisan and other other qualities by which we measure leaders.

Joaquin said...

A lot of Conservatives 'stayed home' in November due to McCain, and a lot of those now regret it.
Hopefully this full-blown move to the extreme left by Obama will 'wake em up'

Hoosier Daddy said...

Boxer has never been more vulnerable.

Could you call me Senator? I worked so hard for that title, yes thank you.

MJ said...

"Liberals don't call themselves liberal."

Exactly right. Liberals routinely deny the NYT is liberal despite its being on the liberal side of every single political issue for generations. They think they're moderate because their self-image is as the educated, reasonable group. College kids and political activists are liberal.