Gallup Poll: Choosing sides

posted at 2:15 pm on June 15, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Today’s Gallup poll has generated a lot of e-mail today, with conservatives claiming victory in the battle for public opinion.  True, it does show self-described conservatives outstripping moderates and liberals, but in this case the mechanism appears more to be a retreat in the middle:

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.

These annual figures are based on multiple national Gallup surveys conducted each year, in some cases encompassing more than 40,000 interviews. The 2009 data are based on 10 separate surveys conducted from January through May. Thus, the margins of error around each year’s figures are quite small, and changes of only two percentage points are statistically significant.

To measure political ideology, Gallup asks Americans to say whether their political views are very conservative, conservative, moderate, liberal, or very liberal. As has been the case each year since 1992, very few Americans define themselves at the extremes of the political spectrum. Just 9% call themselves “very conservative” and 5% “very liberal.” The vast majority of self-described liberals and conservatives identify with the unmodified form of their chosen label.

The graph at Gallup makes this more clear.  Conservatives peaked in 2003-4, if you can call a net two-point shift in a steady series of polls a “peak”.  Self-identified conservatives have for the past thirteen years remained in a range between 37% and 40%, which is not far outside the margin of error.

The real story is the shift in both liberals and moderates.  Over the last seventeen years, self-described liberals have steadily increased from 17% to 22% of the population, falling back a single point in the latest survey.  Moderates have declined from 43% to 35%, an eight-point drop, the most significant change over time in the poll.  They lost two points in the past year, after an election that supposedly hailed their return to control over the political process.

All three groups are important, and all three are relevant, regardless of the claims of triumphalists on either pole.  Conservativism clearly has not lost any ground, and as the big-spending policies of the Obama administration unfold, one can expect a greater increase in both numbers and passion for conservatives.  Liberals, too, will rally to their first White House in eight years.  As Obama continues to push his hard-Left agenda, expect the moderates to decline even further as American voters choose sides.


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I’m sorry that AnninCa has the values she does. Know this though. I, as a Vietnam war veteran and my son in Iraq…. would fight to the death for your liberty…. I don’t sense you would fight for mine…. therefore… live well and look over your shoulder…. my son and I will be there.

MNDavenotPC on June 15, 2009 at 5:08 PM

I agree. I and many others are totally opposed to the state dictating to the individual on medical choices.I can’t understand why “conservatives” don’t agree with me on this.AnninCA

1) Yet, you want the government to control healthcare.What do you think “mandatory” means?
2) Conservatives don’t see abortion as a medical issue. They see is as a MORAL one.

In short, he’ proving to be quite a fluid president.

Really? Meaning wishy-washy with expiration dates on anything he says fluid; a stick-his-finger-in the air and see how the polls are type of fluid; or perhaps he is really like Constable Odo?

Obama is the nation’s incorruptible chief of everything. He is a Changeling, capable of assuming any shape he wishes.

Beaglemom on June 15, 2009 at 5:11 PM

If you think the conservatives are polling well now, wait until Obama starts rolling out his proposed tax increases.

The primary issues in 2010 and 2012 are going to be the national debt and taxes.

And Obama owns them, but not in the good sort of way.

Most Represenatives and Senators who voted for TARP will be running for cover, and their opponents will be hanging that fact around their necks like an albatross.

molonlabe28 on June 15, 2009 at 5:43 PM

Okay, there was a debate on a thread this weekend over whether AnninCA was a troll. I did not weigh in but, AnninCA, it appears that the case is building.

BigD on June 15, 2009 at 3:15 PM

She is absolutely a concern troll. He purpose is to befriend us and then influence us. I have seen her act before on another site.

She is lying about WHO she voted for too. Her #1 issue is ABORTION period. So you can guess that she is rabidly against a certain female governor which she claim to support.

Geochelone on June 15, 2009 at 5:44 PM

I’m sorry that AnninCa has the values she does. Know this though. I, as a Vietnam war veteran and my son in Iraq…. would fight to the death for your liberty….

MNDavenotPC on June 15, 2009 at 5:08 PM

In these days, with all the screaming being done at conservatives, it would seem very difficult to hold such a view. And yet here you are. And your son. It is because of people like you and your son that we are a great nation. Thank you. Bless you. And may your son return safe and unharmed.

Loxodonta on June 15, 2009 at 5:59 PM

Loxodonta on June 15, 2009 at 5:59 PM

Ditto That.

MNDavenotPC–Thank you for your service, and your son’s too. You are a true patriot.

Geochelone on June 15, 2009 at 6:03 PM

I have always wondered why these coat hanger abortions ALWAYS occurred in “back alleys”. This is one of those urban legends.

The concern here is that the coat hanger might harm to woman. But it is an absolute certitude that it harms the child. But none of these abortionists EVER say they are against coat hanger abortions because it might cause pain and suffering for the child. Odd isn’t it.

Geochelone on June 15, 2009 at 6:15 PM

MNDavenotPC on June 15, 2009 at 5:08 PM

That gave me a tear MN.

Half my family has been career military from WW1,WW2, Vietnam, and my cousin was in Iraq (still serving).

Thank you for your service- sincerly. Bless your son as well.

bazil9 on June 15, 2009 at 6:23 PM

I’m sorry that AnninCa has the values she does. Know this though. I, as a Vietnam war veteran and my son in Iraq…. would fight to the death for your liberty…. I don’t sense you would fight for mine…. therefore… live well and look over your shoulder…. my son and I will be there.

MNDavenotPC on June 15, 2009 at 5:08 PM

You have my gratitude, support, and prayers, as does your son. Very beautifully said, and if nothing else came of this, I hope it seeps into some minds, like Anns, and gets them thinking. Without men, and women in our military over our history, her freedoms wouldn’t be what they are now. Don’t ever take that for granted.

capejasmine on June 15, 2009 at 6:44 PM

Since so many here are discussing their political leanings, you might be interested in a test that will give you an idea where you actually stand on the conservative/liberal scale. Go to politicalcompass.org/test. It’s 6 pages long, quite fun, and very interesting. You might be surprised what you find out about yourself.

silvernana on June 15, 2009 at 7:09 PM

silvernana on June 15, 2009 at 7:09 PM

Whats the point of those type of tests?

I’m just gonna guess..and its only a guess. Most people come out more moderate/liberal than they thought?

How accurate was it for you silver?
What surprising thing did you find out about yourself?
Just curious.

Itchee Dryback on June 15, 2009 at 7:18 PM

AnninCA

I also live in California I understand your views even though I don’t agree with them. I think that several have pointed out that you tend to redefine terms to make your positio more palatable or those of person of an opposite view less so. My real disagreement is on any nationalized healthcare to which I respond

RedLizard64 on June 15, 2009 at 7:35 PM

silvernana on June 15, 2009 at 7:09 PM

Holy crap! That test is a setup from the word go! There is no way anyone can come out conservative. Everything will be liberal or slightly moderate.

darwin on June 15, 2009 at 7:36 PM

Itchee Dryback on June 15, 2009 at 7:18 PM

Nah, I took this once. It’s mainly for fun. But it put me pretty much where I imagine myself to be on the spectrum.

ddrintn on June 15, 2009 at 7:36 PM

Just took it again; it shows me as right/libertarian, which is just about right.

ddrintn on June 15, 2009 at 7:46 PM

looks to me like anninca has highjacked this thread with simpleminded platitudes and ridiculous assertions. Almost all of them OT

Don’t feed the trolls!

skeeter on June 15, 2009 at 7:57 PM

Nah, I took this once. It’s mainly for fun. But it put me pretty much where I imagine myself to be on the spectrum.

ddrintn on June 15, 2009 at 7:36 PM

Could be. I never took it.
But from your first evaluation of yourself…before you took the test. Assuming that you didn’t land exactly where you thought, did you end up to the right/conservative, or left/moderate of where you originally thought yourself to be?

Itchee Dryback on June 15, 2009 at 7:59 PM

Just took it again; it shows me as right/libertarian, which is just about right.

ddrintn on June 15, 2009 at 7:46 PM

I don’t think it works like that. You knew what to expect of the questions and the answers.

Itchee Dryback on June 15, 2009 at 8:00 PM

MNDavenotPC on June 15, 2009 at 5:08 PM

I agree, thank you for your service. I will pray for your son’s safe return from Iraq as I pray for my son in S Korea.

Your service and sacrifice are greatly appreciated.

ladyingray on June 15, 2009 at 9:00 PM

looks to me like anninca has highjacked this thread with simpleminded platitudes and ridiculous assertions. Almost all of them OT

Don’t feed the trolls!

skeeter on June 15, 2009 at 7:57 PM

Exactly. She did the VERY same thing over on No Quarter. In fact they used the exact same terminology that you used; “Hijacking a thread”.

Just a bunch of NON SEQUITER one liners over and over and over again. Except on NQ they have a nested structure and she demolished the entire conversation for months on end by double spacing everything. People over their were ready to kill her.

Geochelone on June 15, 2009 at 9:34 PM

On the test, I ended up in the right top quadrant on the line just up about 1/4″ and my political compass was L/R 0.25 and Lib/Auth 1.38. I’m not sure what that means, but I think I’m very conservative. The second time I took it I was in the top left quadrant down in the corner. If anyone can explain that to me, I would appreciate it.

silvernana on June 15, 2009 at 9:59 PM

Wish they also included “progressive,” “socialist,” “collectivist,” “Marxist,” or “communist” in the choices.

Star20 on June 15, 2009 at 10:13 PM

Just took it again; it shows me as right/libertarian, which is just about right.

ddrintn on June 15, 2009 at 7:46 PM

I don’t think it works like that. You knew what to expect of the questions and the answers.

Itchee Dryback on June 15, 2009 at 8:00 PM

Nah, just answered the questions as honestly as I could. It’s not a polygraph or anything; just a diversion. ;)

ddrintn on June 15, 2009 at 10:18 PM

The second time I took it I was in the top left quadrant down in the corner. If anyone can explain that to me, I would appreciate it.

silvernana on June 15, 2009 at 9:59 PM

I wouldn’t worry about it. A lot of the questions could get the same answer from a conservative-libertarian or a liberal-libertarian or probably any other combo.

ddrintn on June 15, 2009 at 10:20 PM

The majority of “illegal immigrants” are terrific people.

I just can’t get behind the hate on that issue.

I’m not masochistic. I don’t dabble in the dark side. I do feel terrible for women faced with horrible choices.

I decided that I agree…I do not want to walk over dead people. I don’t agree with the far right. I don’t want to see the healthcare system destroyed by this problem.

The solution? Public plan…mandatory.

I simply don’t agree with the “Wall” people.

But, I’m way for public policies that take into consideration that some are here just to take money out of our system.

Time to get real.

Mandatory health insurance, but a public policy that is reasonable……is a great first step.

You are welcome to your pretend policies issued by Blue Cross. LOL*

I don’t get it, frankly.

The insurance industry is ripping you off like mad.

Hey Guys,

This is Propaganda 105 “Advanced Thread hijacking”.

GunRunner on June 15, 2009 at 11:12 PM

Yes, it is time to get real. Get the federal government out everything it isn’t mandated by the Constitution to do. If individual states want to pursue socialist policies then I suppose it’s up them.

Stop imposing your wishes and desires on people and forcing them to pay for it.

darwin on June 15, 2009 at 3:14 PM

I second that! Just want to say, as a new poster but long time reader…I’m so happy to be able to check in here and be reminded that there are actually some clear-thinking, good people out there. Bless you folks!

redwhiteblue on June 15, 2009 at 11:30 PM

After reading this Gallup poll result, my depressing attitude is quickly disappearing. Let’s get a beer! Or cheers to all of you commenters wherever you are!

Travis1 on June 16, 2009 at 12:11 AM

The democrats are growing ulcers as news like this hit their fan …
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/weekly_updates/what_they_told_us_reviewing_last_week_s_key_polls

It looks to me as if it is comming up all roses for the conservative movement, and even the beltway insiders in the GOP cannot be very happy right now.

DannoJyd on June 16, 2009 at 12:34 AM

AnninCA on June 15, 2009 at 2:28 PM

Ann,

You have to stop nonsense like this. I’m from where you alledge you live now. People there still think the south has slavery.

Cut the racist talk.

The most racist people I’ve ever met were first-generation Chinese. Notoriously racist, but they come from a ridiculously racist country.

Sapwolf on June 16, 2009 at 2:01 AM

These numbers illustrate why it is stupid to take the RINO path to destruction.

Sapwolf on June 16, 2009 at 2:02 AM

Forget the patients streaming from Canada for our healthcare. I just got back from the UK and their worker’s utopia features postcode lotteries that deprive patients of treatment, constant budget problems, inadequately trained staff and a chronic shortage of doctors. And the impact is not just for fertility problems, aching backs and cosmetic surgery, even if the severity of these problems is high. Patients are failing to get treatment for such problems as cancer, diabetes and even attention in hospitals. The latest editorial in the London Times warned that The One should carefully calculate the costs of his socialist healthcare adventure. I have problems in quoting without permission so just check the key words above for information.

I pay a fortune for health insurance. But with the information I have found, the checks will keep going out.

I think AnninCA has had scissors stuck in the back of her head.

OK, that was a gross remark punch me — I have insurance.

IlikedAUH2O on June 16, 2009 at 7:12 AM

This may have already been pointed out on this thread, but the liberal percentage is way too low. A lot of moderates are actually liberals, they’re just to ignorant to understand that their beliefs are closely aligned with the liberals. The breakdown is probably more like 40% conservative, 40% liberal, and 20% “moderate”.

WordsMatter on June 16, 2009 at 8:06 AM

This may have already been pointed out on this thread, but the liberal percentage is way too low. A lot of moderates are actually liberals, they’re just to ignorant to understand that their beliefs are closely aligned with the liberals. The breakdown is probably more like 40% conservative, 40% liberal, and 20% “moderate”.

WordsMatter on June 16, 2009 at 8:06 AM

I agree, I think there is a large group of ignorant voters who call themselves moderates but are more interested in sports, and pay a little attention to politics for a couple weeks every 4 years, and maybe for a week on 2 year elections. They usually get it wrong unfortunately.

Dasher on June 16, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Gallup finally is admitting to the public that this administration is coming apart at the seams. Thus, the Web site Wrecovery.com needs a name change to reflect its true objective. Wreckcoverup is more apt.

MSGTAS on June 16, 2009 at 10:44 AM

Still just a poll.

MadisonConservative on June 16, 2009 at 10:57 AM

@AnninCA

After reading your comments on this and other threads, I can only throw up my hands and say she is a product of her state (of delusion or denial, your choice). Well, there is more to this country than New York and California. Problem with these polls, is they tend to only poll in urban areas, which skewers the results right there. If you were to poll in every area, you would find that 0bamas numbers are not quite so high. But since you live in your your little LALAland bubble (I don’t know if you do live in the Greater Los Angeles area, but all of CA seems to be so far left it makes Hillary Clinton look right wing) you just don’t know how the real world operates. So here is some clues for you.

One, your statements linking anti-abortion and racists are straight from the DailyKos talking points list. Fact is, a majority of Americans are pro-life. I consider myself a Reagan Conservative, but that does not mean I am some right-wing extremist. Like most Americans, my views are complicated and can not be quantified by a simple yes or no answer. If asked about abortion, I say I am pro-life and pro-choice. I feel that a hard line of when the fetus is able to possibly survive outside the womb is a limit on when they can be aborted. That number is around 24 weeks. Anything pass that is murder and deserves the death penalty (oh yes.. I am very pro-capital punishment.. I think it should be expanded to include things like child molesters and rapist, and none of the mamby-pamby lethal injection crap… hanging, firing squad or electric chair). As far as before that, well, I don’t like it but its a choice for both the mother and father (and if you are under 18, then the parents MUST sign off on it too). I am very pro-responsibly and that if you are going to play without protection, you should have to deal with the consequences. Don’t want the child? That is fine, carry it to term and give it up for adoption. I dont agree with abortion for convenience, but in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in mortal danger, then yes, that would be acceptable.

As far as the racist comment (which is squarely aimed at the anti-illegal segment), that again is more HuffPo/DailyKos talking points. The left is real fond of slapping that racist comment on everyone who doesn’t agree with them. Didn’t vote for 0bama, you are racist. Don’t support gay marriage, then you are a racist. Want better border security and removal of the illegal immigrants, then you are a racist. See where this is going? As far as illegals are concerned, yes.. they should be rounded up and deported. I am not anti-immigrant. I am anti-illegal. There is a process in which you can apply to come to this country. My ancestors did it when the immigrated her from Germany in the late 1800s (well part of my ancestors… some came when this was a colony and some were already here, but I digress) and chances are, yours did too. So why should illegals be granted special dispensation and amnesty simply because they snuck in like rats rather than following the law? The shouldn’t and have broken the law and should be punished (with swift deportation… they can reapply to come this country AFTER they are sent back to their home country). This country would be in better financial straits if there wasn’t a 20+ million non-tax paying anchor dragging it down. You call them ‘terrific people’ and some individuals very may well be, but the fact is, as a whole the are a burden and a danger to this country.

Now I apologize for the length of this post (rant). I tend to get a bit long winded when I am defending this country from the looney left.

Wolftech on June 16, 2009 at 10:59 AM

If these numbers are to be believed, in order for a conservative candidate to win election, he/she needs to unite the conservatives and get 1/3 of the moderates. That shouldn’t be too hard, but Republicans have been losing the PR war by allowing themselves to be characterized as mean, nasty, hate-the-poor bigoted racists, spending like liberals, and having too many members of Congress caught in kickback schemes.

Now that liberals control the Presidency and Congress, Republicans can criticize the results of even worse wasteful spending and socialism, while trying to reach out to moderates and young people and Latinos. Not by being Democrat-Lite, but by explaining why conservative principles work for THEM. Tell healthy young people that if we socialize medicine, THEIR taxes will go up, and that rampant spending increases will leave THEM stuck paying the bill. Tell Latinos (most of whom are pro-life Catholics) that WE support unified families, and that the best way for them to achieve success is to teach their kids English at an early age, when they can learn it most easily.

But 2010 should, if Republicans play their cards right, be another 1994–a response to liberal over-reach, where moderate voters realize that Obama and the Democrats have gone too far, and decide to put on the brakes. We need to sow the seeds of doubt about Obama and socialism, alert moderate voters to the coming train wreck, and persuade them to let us be their brakes.

Steve Z on June 16, 2009 at 11:39 AM

My side is the Constitution…it seems that Neither GOP or Dems care much about the Constitution anymore.

nelsonknows on June 17, 2009 at 2:35 AM

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