Gallup: Social conservatism bounces up, economic conservatism steady

posted at 6:31 pm on May 25, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Interestingly, Gallup didn’t lead with the finding on social conservatism from its latest survey, but that may be because the bounce upward followed two straight declines in the same series.  The focus on economic conservatism is a little more dramatic, if consistent:

Americans are more than twice as likely to identify themselves as conservative rather than liberal on economic issues, 46% to 20%. The gap is narrower on social issues, but conservatives still outnumber liberals, 38% to 28%. …

In the same poll, on Gallup’s standard measure of ideology — not asked in reference to any set of issues — 41% identified themselves as conservatives, 33% as moderates, and 23% as liberals. Those figures are similar to what Gallup typically finds when it asks people to identify their ideology.

Thus, compared with the standard measure of ideology, slightly more Americans say they are economically conservative and slightly fewer say they are socially conservative. Also, significantly more Americans say they are socially liberal than identify their basic ideology as liberal.

Why might that be?  Perhaps because to be seen as socially liberal is more “cool.”  It may also provide a bit of social cover for economic conservatism; I’ve heard people say, “Yes, I’m a fiscal conservative, but I’m socially liberal” on a number of occasions.  However, the actual breakout shows that people don’t actually think of themselves in that way.  Of the 46% who claim to be economic conservatives, only 3% also claim in this study to be social liberals, with 11% identifying as social moderates.

This is the same survey, however, that found a majority of respondents identifying as “pro-life,” with pro-choice identification dropping to 41%, a new low.  That indicates that either more social moderates are crossing over to pro-life, or social moderates might be disappearing.  This graph from the survey suggests it might be more of the latter:

It’s interesting to note that while social conservatism peaked and slid, social liberalism dipped and rose, with moderates benefiting briefly.  This looks more like a slight trend toward polarization, and moderates may end up at the bottom of the split in subsequent polls.  That’s also the trend with economics, but the difference between moderates and liberals is still large enough that there is little danger of economic liberals overtaking the moderates, while economic conservatives remain near the majority.

What does that mean for the 2012 election?  The model suggests that Barack Obama and Democrats will have a tough time, although not as tough as in 2010, given that the election will almost entirely hinge on economic policies.  The split for C/M/L on economics in 2008 was 40/38/19, and Obama at that time got a lot of support from moderates who thought he was one of them.  In 2010, it was 51/33/15, which drove the midterm victories for the GOP.  Now we’re back at 46/32/20, still a much more significant gap than in 2010, plus Obama will have a tough time selling himself as a moderate.  To the extent that social issues come into play at all, the chart above doesn’t suggest that it will be very helpful to Obama — except perhaps as a distraction from economics.


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thuja on May 26, 2012 at 9:05 AM

Wow, such distilled ignorance.

tom daschle concerned on May 26, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Gallup: Social conservatism bounces up, economic conservatism steady

Should be the other way around.

UltimateBob on May 26, 2012 at 10:33 AM

As a political philosophy, Conservatism looks for successful behaviors in the past and seeks to conserve them. Conservatism appreciates the argument against murder based on evolving that way.

thuja on May 26, 2012 at 9:05 AM

Apparently you missed the point that evolution is not a rationale.

Obviously, it would reject the notion that evolving that way is the only reason–as would any sane world view. Are you sure that the person you responded argued it was the only reason? If that were true, you would be right. I just have my doubts that anyone would make such a stupid argument. You should be careful to argue against what people actually say.

It was the reason he presented. If you doubt it, go back up and read what he wrote.

Stoic Patriot on May 26, 2012 at 10:56 AM

Should be the other way around.

UltimateBob on May 26, 2012 at 10:33 AM

You can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative.

~Jim DeMint

Rebar on May 26, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Del Dolemonte on May 25, 2012 at 8:12 PM

This has to be the most moronic of many moronic response to Lester here.

thuja on May 25, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Translated: “I heart lester!”

M-

Del Dolemonte on May 26, 2012 at 11:47 AM

thuja on May 26, 2012 at 9:05 AM

Wow, such distilled ignorance.

tom daschle concerned on May 26, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Yep. 151 Proof.

Del Dolemonte on May 26, 2012 at 11:47 AM

What is “Social Conservatism”?

listens2glenn on May 25, 2012 at 6:38 PM

.
Forcing everyone to live by your morals which are taken from a 2000 year old collection of random ramblings based on a hate-driven, violent, genocidal and even older set of rambling.

lester on May 25, 2012 at 6:58 PM

.
My apologies to you all, but especially lester and thuja, for not getting back to this thread last night.

Bummer. : (

listens2glenn on May 26, 2012 at 12:19 PM

lester on May 25, 2012 at 6:58 PM

.
Now then, what examples of “morals” do we have, that are NOT “social conservatism”?

What examples of “social conservatism” do we have, that are NOT related to sex, mind altering drugs, and alcohol?

listens2glenn on May 26, 2012 at 12:25 PM

This has to be the most moronic of many moronic response to Lester here.

thuja on May 25, 2012 at 10:33 PM

As opposed to there?

CW on May 26, 2012 at 1:41 PM

The message to take away from this information is that conservatism is on the rise. Perhaps that is why Willard keeps lying about being a conservative.

It may also provide a bit of social cover for economic conservatism; I’ve heard people say, “Yes, I’m a fiscal conservative, but I’m socially liberal” on a number of occasions.

RonMe sucks like only a lying liberal can:

The theme of both contests for the seats on the RNC was conservatism — and who had the most of it.

Both incumbents, who would normally be viewed as bedrock conservatives, suffered from association with the Republican establishment by virtue of having been in office and part of the GOP political machinery for years.

DannoJyd on May 26, 2012 at 2:02 PM

DannoJyd on May 26, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Romney is a weather-vane politician. So his actions are hardly surprising and maybe not all bad. Because if we can convince him that conservatism is making a major comeback – wether or not it really is – perhaps that will make him grow a spine.

MelonCollie on May 26, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Romney is a weather-vane politician.

MelonCollie on May 26, 2012 at 2:19 PM

While I really do appreciate your positive outlook I just cannot bring myself to believe Romney won’t cave in to the pressures brought to bear on him by the leftist liberals. IMHO, it is most likely that he will return to his liberal roots the second any liberal media outlet blasts him once in office AGAIN.

Honestly, do we really want to risk the Supreme Court on Hope and Change again?

Maybe if we run Willard through the briar patch a few times he will learn the lesson. If we merely give him the benefit of the doubt he will not.

Conservatives need to take a stand NOW if they want a Romney they can count on in the future. We need to teach him a lesson he will never forget.

DannoJyd on May 26, 2012 at 2:30 PM

This is the dumbest thing Ive ever read on this site:

Perhaps because to be seen as socially liberal is more “cool.”  It may also provide a bit of social cover for economic conservatism;

Couldnt possibly be because people actually think this.

DaveO on May 26, 2012 at 3:13 PM

The gay marriage types and the put government in charge of pregnancy types are the same kind of crazy.

No matter how many ballots you fail on, you are still convinced you are the mainstream.

Moesart on May 26, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Gosh. You mean there’s more to America than just the Northeast and the Left Coast? There are actually Reagan Conservatives living in the Heartland?

Whodathunkit?

kingsjester on May 26, 2012 at 6:34 PM

When on earth did the wheels come off for thuja?

Bmore on May 26, 2012 at 7:14 PM

One term of a radical left-winger like Obama, and social conservatism suddenly starts looking pretty good.

Seriously, social conservatism is nothing more than the Church Lady telling me what to, whereas Progessivism is George Clooney telling me what to do.

MunDane68 on May 25, 2012 at 7:03 PM

Who’s more likely to try to force you to do something with the power of the government? Who’s more likely to grow government? Who’s more likely to tell you what to eat and what to drink, and whether you’re too fat, and tell you how to raise your children?

I’m sorry, but the progressives are so much more intrusive than social conservatives ever have been that any serious attempt at comparison is moronic.

Probably the high point of what you would call “social conservatism” was Prohibition. I doubt you’ll ever see a return to those days. But even at that time, did the government investigate homes because children drew pictures of soldiers or guns, or had toy guns? Did the government back then try to tax “unhealthy” foods to force you to eat right? Did the government take away a child’s lunch because it didn’t have enough vegetables in it?

All of that has happened recently, and was driven by progressives. Keep your eye on the ball.

tom on May 26, 2012 at 7:38 PM

When on earth did the wheels come off for thuja?

Bmore on May 26, 2012 at 7:14 PM

About the same time as MadCon was released from the looney bin?

MelonCollie on May 26, 2012 at 7:47 PM

This really needs to be a wake up call to anyone who is trying to push back the Dems. We have 11 years of trending here to show that the American public, for the most part, is at *least* socially moderate, if not socially conservative so when you come at them with the Libertarian approach, you’re looking to turn away two thirds of the electorate.

Let’s not forget that many of the founders also believed that it was, by today’s standards, a socially and fiscally conservative foundation that would keep the Republic going.

Silver on May 27, 2012 at 11:08 AM

True, but many libertarians are too stoned to care.

lol

Silver on May 27, 2012 at 12:19 PM

I’m sorry, but the progressives are so much more intrusive than social conservatives ever have been that any serious attempt at comparison is moronic.

So why can’t conservatives be reasonable about accommodating those who are hard workers and responsible parents, but may have different sexual inclinations or partake of weed in careful moderation?

Just because we decide to allow one thing a certain group wants doesn’t mean we have to grant them everything else they demand. We can give same-sex couples every single marriage benefit without having to teach sex education to kindergarteners (or whatever other outlandish tenets are in the mythical “gay agenda”). We can fight drug abuse – the key word here is “ABUSE” – while allowing responsible, recreational pot smokers to keep their weed stash. And we can decide these things at the state level instead of having to force restrictions on all 50 states.

Why not promote and encourage social conservatism at the community grass-roots level without having to resort to overreaching nanny-state bans on things that don’t harm anyone else?

TMOverbeck on May 27, 2012 at 5:40 PM

TMOverbeck on May 27, 2012 at 5:40 PM

.
The other side started this “overreaching” nonsense at the national level, NOT the Evangelicals.
First with the Judiciary, and now with overt attempts at pushing legislation.

There’s nothing mythical about the militant “gay” agenda.

Using mind-altering chemicals/substances/drugs as “recreation” is irresponsible, by definition. Whether you personally accept it as constituting abuse or not is irrelevant.

Same-sex partners raising children is mutually exclusive from responsibliity. Period.

listens2glenn on May 27, 2012 at 8:50 PM

So why can’t conservatives be reasonable about accommodating those who are hard workers and responsible parents, but may have different sexual inclinations

You are preaching to the wrong choir sister. As soon as gay unions were passed in Massachusetts, parents sued because a school told them they couldn’t opt out from their children learning about gay relationships from the school. A federal judge agreed. There is no line drawn or stopping the gay agenda. There is an element who wants to use their “so called rights” as a bludgeon against every person whoever slighted them ever. Read the earlier blog and you will hear one of them see themselves akin to slaves and social conservative akin to slaveholders

Why not promote and encourage social conservatism at the community grass-roots level without having to resort to overreaching nanny-state bans on things that don’t harm anyone else

THe state is the grass root level. I could care less if states decide to legalize weed. I won’t be living in that state. THe people trying to federalize and force the marriage issue is the gay agenda NOT the social conservatives. DOMA is so that states that want to legalize gay marriage don’t bleed into those that don’t. And it isn’t just social conservatives who are against not only pot use and gay marriage see California..

melle1228 on May 27, 2012 at 11:25 PM

Just because we decide to allow one thing a certain group wants doesn’t mean we have to grant them everything else they demand. We can give same-sex couples every single marriage benefit without having to teach sex education to kindergarteners (or whatever other outlandish tenets are in the mythical “gay agenda”). We can fight drug abuse – the key word here is “ABUSE” – while allowing responsible, recreational pot smokers to keep their weed stash. And we can decide these things at the state level instead of having to force restrictions on all 50 states.

Why not promote and encourage social conservatism at the community grass-roots level without having to resort to overreaching nanny-state bans on things that don’t harm anyone else?

TMOverbeck on May 27, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Such issues should be regulated at the lowest level possible. Local autonomy.

Which was a point Santorum tried to make, when he pointed out that the Supreme Court wrongfully declared that local governments could make no such regulations due to a “right to privacy” they managed to infer from the Constitution. That’s why there is no local autonomy, because state and local governments are not even allowed to regulate anything.

Unfortunately a lot of people totally misrepresented this as Santorum wanting to regulate such things at the federal level, when his position was that such regulation should be done at the state and local level.

Many of the people who hate social conservatives are their own worst enemy, effectively siding with the far more intrusive progressives rather than potential allies, then wondering why the progressives so often win.

There Goes The Neighborhood on May 28, 2012 at 12:29 AM

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