Although political ideologies in the United States have become more polarized in the past 20 years, they remained steady last year. And conservatives made up the biggest bloc for the third straight year, according to a new Gallup survey
In 2011, 40 percent of Americans described their views as conservative, while 35 percent were moderate, and 21 percent, liberal. The conservative three-peat came after more than a decade in which moderates usually tied or outnumbered conservatives, the Princeton, N.J.-based pollster found.
The percentage of Americans calling themselves moderate has diminished gradually since it was 43 percent when Gallup first started measuring ideology. It dropped to 39 percent in 2002 and has been 35 percent since 2010, Gallup reported.
During the same decade, the country became more politically polarized, with the percentages of Americans assuming the conservative and liberal mantles increasing.
“Gallup measures political ideology by asking Americans to say whether their political views are very conservative, conservative, moderate, liberal, or very liberal. Relatively few Americans identify with either extreme on this scale, although 2 in 10 Republicans self-identify as very conservative — double the proportion of Democrats calling themselves very liberal,” according to Gallup’s analysis.
Most Republicans say they are either very conservative or conservative, but the total proportion of conservatives in the GOP grew 10 percentage points between 2002 and 2010, when it was 72 percent. During that time, the percentage of moderates fell from 31 percent to 23 percent.
Just 4 percent of Republicans polled in 2010 and 2011 described themselves as liberal.
The 2011 results are based on 20 Gallup and USA Today/Gallup surveys conducted between January and December. They included interviews with 20,392 U.S. adults: 5,912 Republicans, 6,087 Democrats, and 8,064 independents.
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