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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Small Shifts in Political Self-Identification

For John, BLUFIn case you missed it, political polarization is increasing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the Gallup Poll we have an article by Mr Jeffrey M Jones about the annual poll regarding political self-identification.  As a note, the term "liberal" as used here is not really a liberal, but more of a "progressive". True liberals, classic liberals, are lost in the other two categories, "moderate" and "conservative".  The article is "Liberal Self-Identification Edges Up to New High in 2013".  The subtle is "Fifteen-percentage-point conservative advantage ties as smallest to date."  The article has three charts to help us understand the trends since 1992 (2000 for political parties).  The lede:
PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans continue to be more likely to identify as conservatives (38%) than as liberals (23%).  But the conservative advantage is down to 15 percentage points as liberal identification edged up to its highest level since Gallup began regularly measuring ideology in the current format in 1992.
Interesting stuff.

Here is the conclusion:

Americans' perceptions of their political views -- if not the views themselves -- are undergoing unmistakable change, contributing to greater political polarization in the country.  Now, the plurality of Democrats consider themselves to be politically liberal, whereas a decade ago, Democrats were most likely to say they were moderate.  That could be because Democrats are now more comfortable calling themselves "liberal" -- a term that was less popular in the recent past -- even if their current and past views on issues are similar.  But it could also reflect an evolution in their views to favor more traditionally liberal issue positions.

Meanwhile, Republicans, who have always been overwhelmingly conservative, have become increasingly so.  One manifestation of that may have been a series of primary election challenges for long-serving GOP members of Congress by candidates aligned with the Tea Party movement.

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, a tendency that appears to be matched by the increasing polarization between Democratic and Republican members of Congress.

The changes in ideological identification among party groups has resulted in a rise in the percentage of Americans overall who call themselves liberal and a decrease in the percentage of moderates.  Even though the percentage of conservatives has generally held steady, the rise in liberal identification leaves conservatives with their smallest advantage over liberals in the last two decades.  If the trends in Democratic self-identification continue, that gap will likely continue to shrink over time, and could lead to further polarization in U.S. politics.

Many blame the Parties for this, but what if it is the People themselves who are becoming more polarized?

Regards  —  Cliff

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