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.