Is the US Getting More Conservative?

By Richard Florida

Even with the president’s approval rating showing signs of life and the Republicans busily bashing themselves over the head — “one is a practicing polygamist and he’s not even the Mormon,” retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor recently quipped about her party’s two frontrunners — America continues to track right, according to polling data released by the Gallup Organization last week.

Americans at this political moment are significantly more likely to identify as conservative than as liberal: conservatives outnumber liberals by nearly two to one. Forty percent identify as conservative, 36 percent as moderate, and 21 percent liberal.


The map above charts the ideological divide across America’s states. There are four states where conservatives make up more than half the population: Mississippi, Utah, Wyoming, and Alabama. Conservatives make up more than 40 percent in 20 more states. Liberals now outnumber conservatives in just one state, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia.

Last March, I took an in-depth look at the factors that might be associated with America’s increasingly conservative ideological cast; I update that analysis here with Gallup’s year-end data. The ongoing economic crisis only appears to have deepened conservatism’s hold. America is becoming a more conservative nation, at least at the state level.

My MPI colleague Charlotta Mellander ran a series of correlations on a range of political, economic, demographic and other factors. The associations we found, I hasten to add, are just that — associations; correlation does not show causation. Nonetheless, they reflect the deep cleavages of income, education, and class that divide America.

As before, conservative states are considerably more religious than liberal-leaning states. The correlation between conservative political affiliation and religion (the share of state population for which religion is an important part of daily life) has grown stronger, increasing from .63 to .70.

The correlation between religion and the increase in conservatism over the past year is also considerable. As American states become more religious, they also become more conservative.


15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dragonpuff
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 12:02:56

    Well, Gallup has been proven completely unreliable. It actually was at the bottom of the list of polls as far as accuracy goes. They completely botched the presidential election. So when you have a democratic president, openly gay senators and congresspeople, marriage equity bills passing all over the country, pot decriminalized in two states . . . . I’m thinking conservatism has its place but it is not becoming more pervasive. I actually think the opposite is happening.

    I also think we should divide conservatism up. Social conservatism and fiscal
    conservatism don’t always play in the same room. Actually, they used to be at odds with each other. I know many fiscally conservative people who are liberal socially—actually that is what the republican party USED to be.


    • climber357
      Nov 14, 2012 @ 10:10:57

      I always ignore Gallup, Rasmussen, and Rand.

      ¨A native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian.¨

      Richard Dawkins.


    • Sailing smooth
      Dec 27, 2012 @ 23:00:14

      Thank you for enumerating all the disgusting and pathetic excuses for liberals to exist.


    • Sailing smooth
      Dec 27, 2012 @ 23:03:12

      Are we allowed to stick one foot in each room? Then again, I have no desire to stick a foot in a room with any form of liberalism. The disease exposure, you know. Mentally incompetent. Boring cretins.


  2. batgirly
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 12:46:50

    I left the Republican Party about 20 years ago, and now exclusively vote Democrat. I am for marriage rights for everyone, no matter what sex or color they are, I am for Obamacare, for giving out free/affordable contraception, for keeping politicians and religious extremists out of my bedroom and my doctor’s office. I am for green energy, for addressing global warming and climate change, for teaching science in the classroom instead of religious mythology.

    I just finished answering a phone poll, and it asked me how I identify myself. I answered “moderate”. Yes, that’s how I see myself, and I imagine that a lot of people like me see themselves as “moderate”. I could also have said “conservative”, since I want to conserve our natural resources, our non-renewable fuels, etc. for future generations (why burn it all up in this century?).

    It seems to me, that everybody’s definition of “conservative, moderate, and liberal” can be quite different. And yes, I do believe that certain states are becoming more “conservative”, however, we just had a Democratic president elected (in a bad economy) by both the popular and electoral vote, as well as a Democratic senate majority increased, so how in the heck can the general trend be towards conservatism?


    • Sailing smooth
      Dec 27, 2012 @ 22:43:18

      You should have answered “self-centered moonbat” and been truthful. There is a whole party of your species just waiting for your one issue (abortion) leadership. Stand up and be counted and recognized so the rest of us can run far from the disease.


  3. brbr2424
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 13:08:19

    Would this be the same Gallup that predicted a Romney landslide victory? The word conservative actually has a meaning that doesn’t always mean right wing ideologue. My eighty year old parents live a very conservative life. They have been married for over fifty years and they are somewhat frugal. They voted for Obama and straight ticket Democrat last Tuesday. Obama was the only conservative candidate running in this past election. Romney was a reckless liar. Not conservative qualities.


  4. jk
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 16:07:55

    I actually think this so-called rise in conservatism in the US is actually just more noise from conservatives and the religious “right” as the dig in their heels against the rising tide of progress.


  5. WakeUpAmerica
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 21:55:42

    If conservatives out-number liberals 2 to 1, how did President Obama get re-elected?


  6. Celia Harrison
    Nov 15, 2012 @ 23:50:03

    The word liberal was demonized by the right. Most people don’t think for themselves and don’t want a label with a negative connotation even if they are actually leaning toward the left. They have been trained to think left means, socialist or communist and they know they don’t want those labels either even though they have no idea what they really are. Either a test of the responders to the poll should be done to understand their definitions and attitudes or definitions should be written into the questions.


    • Sailing smooth
      Dec 27, 2012 @ 22:46:12

      To be completely accurate you are Marxist for supporting someone who has long held Marxist views and agenda.


  7. Lidia17
    Nov 18, 2012 @ 18:21:02

    Celia and batgirly among others have put their finger on an important issue: the manipulation of language. “Liberal” in European socio-politics usually means those who root for the freedom of money (from whence “neo-liberal” economics) above or equal to all other freedoms.

    I find it quite interesting that economic “liberals” (i.e., American Conservatives) think money should cross borders freely, yet people should not. I always ask myself, why is that so? And the answer is, because it does not behoove Our Galtian Overlords, otherwise known as the 1% for people to be able to follow economic opportunity even though “money” can do so. Let money be defined by the people, stay in the country with the people, answer to the people and be the instrument of the people and of not dis-loyal trans-national citizens -of -nowhere like Exxonians, Walmartians, etc.


    • Sailing smooth
      Dec 27, 2012 @ 22:55:09

      Don’t worry little twit. The 1% are leaving, permanently, as are many of the 10 % who are sick of paying your share of taxes. If we are gone, you can figure out how to survive and wallow freely in your ‘morality’ and ethical bankruptcy. BTW. You can’t stop us from leaving. Check out France. Luckily you will still have the generosity of the idiots. Buffet, and Sorros. Oh oops I forgot, they just sold off most of their stocks in American companies. Go Green! Grow your own grass(pot) and sour grapes….


  8. Moles
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 19:19:10

    All this navel gazing and the GOP still has no clue why they lost. Here’s a tiny hint: take all your good ole boy self appointed guardians of the right and put them out to pasture, preferably a large pasture and right out of range of any microphones.


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