Poll: Fewer Americans identify as economic conservatives

For much of President Obama’s first term, economic conservatism appeared to be on the rise and social conservatism saw modest gains as well. In 2009, a record 42% of Americans said they were social conservatives, while in 2010, a high of 51% said they were economically conservative. This trend may have foreshadowed the 2010 midterms, in which Republicans gave congressional Democrats a memorable “shellacking” by winning a large number of seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

This new survey shows changes in Americans’ ideology: economic conservatism is at a five-year low, while social liberalism has registered its highest support — though it remains to be seen whether the changes will continue. On the one hand, for economic ideology, this may be a return to the “normal” rate measured in past polls but momentarily disrupted by a number of factors over the last four years, including the economic recession, the Democrats’ control of most of the federal government, and the healthcare debate. By comparison, the 41% of Americans now calling themselves economic conservatives nearly mirrors the eight-year average (42%) observed during the Bush administration.