Just months removed from the election of President Barack Obama Gallup has reported new polling data showing that “conservatives” comprise the largest ideological group in the United States with nearly twice as many Americans saying they are “conservative” as those claiming to be “liberal”.
According to the study, 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.
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. However, “Conservatives” are still the single largest ideological group.
One of the more interesting segments of the study comes from Gallup’s data regarding gender and political orientation. While young voters and Latinos are being widely credited with helping propel Barack Obama to a commanding victory, but an even greater source of support for Obama appears to have come from unmarried women, an important but often overlooked demographic. According to US News, unmarried women – a group that includes single, separated, divorced, or widowed women – voted for Obama over Republican opponent John McCain by a whopping 70 to 29 percent in November’s election.
However according to Gallup, conservatism outweighs liberalism among both genders:
The bottom line from Gallup: Although the terms may mean different things to different people, Americans readily peg themselves, politically, into one of five categories along the conservative-to-liberal spectrum. At present, large minorities describe their views as either moderate or conservative — with conservatives the larger group — whereas only about one in five consider themselves liberal.