Gallup: Number of Liberals Hits New High

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More Americans self-identified as "liberal" in 2013 than ever before, according to data compiled by Gallup. However, people are still more likely to consider themselves conservative than either moderate or liberal.

Twenty-three percent of Americans say they are liberal. Meanwhile, 34 percent say that they are best described as moderate. And conservative self-identification, while down slightly, is still the most popular at 38 percent.

In 1996, the percentage of conservatives was 22 percentage points higher than liberals. That gap narrowed to just 15 percent last year.

“The rise in liberal identification has been accompanied by a decline in moderate identification,” explained Gallup Senior Editor Jeffrey M. Jones.

Moderate identification peaked at 39 percent in 1993, but has since fallen five points. Moderates were able to compete with conservatives for ideological dominance (in polling, at least) for most of the 1990s and 2000s, but conservatives broke away in 2008 and have remained the most popular for the past five years.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties have become significantly more liberal and conservative, respectively. About 43 percent of Democrats consider themselves liberal, up from 38 percent in 2007. Meanwhile, 70 percent of Republicans self-identify as conservative, up eight points from 2000.

“These data confirm the tendency for Americans who identify with the two major parties to be more ideologically homogeneous than was the case in the past,” said Jones, “a tendency that appears to be matched by the increasing polarization between Democratic and Republican members of Congress.”

Gallup began polling on the question in 1992.

Jones said the results are based on data taken from 13 Gallup polls conducted throughout 2013 that include interviews with more than 18,000 Americans. 

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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