The “conservative” label prevails in the South

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PRINCETON, NJ – The strength of “conservative” over “liberal” in the realm of political labels is clearly apparent in Gallup state-level data, where a significantly higher percentage of Americans in most states – even some solid Democrats – call themselves conservatives rather than liberals.

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The more conservative states are found primarily in the South, led by Alabama and Mississippi. The figure is approaching 50% in several southern states, plus Utah. The more liberal states tend to be located on the east and west coasts, led by Washington, DC, then Massachusetts, Vermont, and Oregon.

These results are based on Americans’ responses to a question asking whether their political views are very conservative, conservative, moderate, liberal, or very liberal. The data comes from the Gallup Daily Tracking in the first half of 2009, encompassing interviews with more than 160,000 American adults, with a minimum of 400 interviews for each state (and 300 in the District of Columbia).

The overall percentages of self-proclaimed conservatives in each state range from a high of 49% in Alabama to a low of 23% in the nation’s capital. The “liberal” label is most widely adopted in Washington, at 37%, followed by 29% in Massachusetts. At 14%, it is the least used in Louisiana. (See the table at the end of this report for the complete percentages state by state.)

Because the percentage of moderates varies from state to state – from 43% in Hawaii and Rhode Island to 32% in Alabama – the percentage identifying as “conservative” alone does not provide a complete picture of the situation. relative strength of conservatism in states. . For this reason, the “net conservative” statistic – defined as the total percentage who identifies as conservative minus the total percentage who identifies as liberal – is used in the attached map to identify the ideological makeup of each state.

States where the Conservatives’ advantage over the Liberals is greater than 25 percentage points are defined as the most conservative. Net conservatism registering 20 to 25 points is defined as more conservative; from 10 to 19 points, as somewhat conservative; and from 1 to 9 points, for Less conservative. Only Washington, DC, which has more liberals than conservatives, is defined as liberal.

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While American party identification and political ideology are intertwined, they are by no means one and the same. For example, while residents of Alabama and Mississippi are most likely to be ideologically conservative, they are not the most Republicans in their party affiliation. According to Gallup’s report on party identification by state earlier this month, that distinction goes to Utah, whose net conservative score is only slightly higher than that of South Dakota (a Democratic-leaning state). .

In fact, while the 50 states are, to some extent, more conservative than liberal (with a conservative edge ranging from 1 to 34 points), Gallup’s party identification results in 2009 indicate Democrats have advantages. significant party IDs in 30 states and Republicans in just 4.

Final result

Despite the political strength of the Democratic Party – seen in its majority representation in Congress and in state houses across the country – more Americans see themselves as conservatives than liberals. While Gallup polls have found this to be true nationally for many years and covering recent Republican and Democratic presidential administrations, this analysis confirms that the pattern holds up largely at the state level as well. Conservatives outnumber Liberals by statistically significant margins in 47 of the 50 states, with the two groups being statistically linked to Hawaii, Vermont and Massachusetts.

Taken together with party identification, these ideological findings highlight the role political moderates are currently playing in joining with the Liberals in giving the Democratic Party its numerical advantage.

Gallup.com’s “State of the States” Series Reveals State-to-State Differences in the Political, Economic, and Welfare Measures Gallup Track Every Day, Based on Data Collected Between January and June 2009. To view all of the stories published in the mid-2009 series, click here. New stories will be posted throughout August.

Survey methods

The results are based on telephone interviews with 160,236 domestic adults, aged 18 and over, conducted from January 2 to June 30, 2009, as part of the Gallup Daily monitoring. For results based on the total sample of national adults, it can be said with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ± 1 percentage point.

The margin of sampling error for most states is ± 3 percentage points, but can reach ± ​​7 percentage points for the District of Columbia and ± 6 percentage points for Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware and Hawaii.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landlines (for respondents with landlines) and cell phones (for respondents who only use cellphones).

In addition to the sampling error, the wording of the questions and the practical difficulties of carrying out surveys can introduce errors or bias in the results of opinion polls.

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