Conservatives Still Outnumber Liberals, But Gap Narrowing

In recent history, self-described conservatives have generally outnumbered liberals by a ratio of 1 1/2 or 2 to 1. According to Gallup’s latest survey, that gap has narrowed. Conservatives had a 21-point edge in 2004; that is down to nine points today.

The state-by-state breakdown is interesting. Gallup emphasizes the fact that there are 19 “highly conservative” states, in which the conservative margin is 20 points or more. There are only six states in which more people identify as liberals than conservatives, and there is no state where liberals hold a 20-point edge. The widest gap is Massachusetts, where liberals are +14.

Weirdly, California has as many self-described conservatives as liberals, at 29% each. My own state, Minnesota, is often seen as deep blue, yet conservatives outnumber liberals by 32% to 25%.

What is going on here? Why do voter populations that identify as conservative elect so many liberals? One possibility is that self-described moderates, the largest group in many states, mostly lean left. In some states, that could be true. But take, for example, Minnesota. My organization, Center of the American Experiment, does quarterly polling. We find that Minnesotans express mostly conservative views on nearly all policy issues. To take just one example, supposedly deep-blue Minnesotans support income tax cuts in all four state brackets by an overwhelming 65% to 31%. But I am not sure there is a single politician in the state advocating such cuts.

I think part of the answer must be that the press effectively buoys liberal politicians. Incessant attacks on conservatives, combined with kid glove treatment of liberals, no doubt skews voting patterns away from voters’ philosophical inclinations, to some degree.

Still, Gallup’s findings raise serious questions about the wisdom of the Democratic Party’s headlong embrace of socialism.

Here is Gallup’s map; click to enlarge: