- 38% say they are conservative on social issues, compared to 33% last year.
- Highest percentage saying they are socially conservative since 2012
- 44% say they are economically conservative, a figure also higher since 2012.
WASHINGTON, DC — This year, more Americans (38%) say they are very conservative or conservative on social issues than in 2022 (33%) and 2021 (30%). At the same time, the percentage saying their social views are very liberal or liberal has dropped to 29%, from 34% in each of the last two years, while the proportion identifying as moderate (31%) remains close a third.
The last time this many Americans identified themselves as socially conservative was in 2012, a time when more and more American adults identified as conservative rather than liberal on social issues.
The results are based on Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs Survey, conducted May 1-24. The survey comes at a time when many states are considering policies regarding transgender issues, abortion, crime, drug use and the teaching of gender and sexuality in schools.
The increase in conservative identification on social issues over the past two years is visible across almost all political and demographic subgroups. Republicans show one of the biggest increases, going from 60% in 2021 to 74% today. Independents show a slight increase of five percentage points, from 24% to 29%, while there was no change among Democrats (10% in 2021 and 2023).
Since 2021, there has been a double-digit increase in social conservative ideology among middle-aged adults, those aged 30 to 64. At the same time, older Americans’ ideology on social issues has remained stable, while there has been a slight increase in social conservative ideology among younger adults.
Economic conservatism is also increasing
When Americans are asked to describe their views on economic issues, 44% say they are very conservative or conservative, 33% moderate, and 21% very liberal or liberal. The percentage calling themselves conservative averaged 40% between 2020 and 2022. The current figure is the highest since 46% in 2012.
Americans have historically been more likely to identify as conservative than liberal on economic issues, by as much as 16 percentage points (as of 2021).
During the election period, President Joe Biden and Congress debated legislation to raise the federal debt ceiling and cut federal spending.
Americans are more likely to identify as economically conservative rather than liberal, because Republicans identify as predominantly conservative, but Democrats are not predominantly liberal. In 2023, 79% of Republicans identify as conservative on economic issues, while 48% of Democrats identify as liberal. Additionally, more independents identify as economic conservatives (36%) than liberals (16%). About half of independents say they are moderate on economic issues.
Partisan ideology on economic issues has remained stable in recent years. Rather, the modest changes in economic ideology among domestic adults are due to slight shifts in political party identification among U.S. adults (from an average of 29% Republicans, 32% Democrats in the 2020 surveys and 2021 to 30% Republicans and 29% Democrats in 2023). investigation).
For most of the past eight years, Americans were as likely to call themselves liberal as conservative on social issues. This year, the conservative advantage is more obvious. This shift is primarily due to growing social conservatism among Republicans, at a time when social issues such as transgender rights, abortion and other hot-button concerns are prominent in the national public debate.
Greater social conservatism could foster a more favorable environment for the adoption of conservative-leaning social legislation, particularly in Republican-majority states. Indeed, over the past year, many Republican states have passed stricter restrictions on abortion, limited transgender youth’s choices in sports participation and health care, and banned topics that could be discussed in class.
Americans remain more likely to identify as conservative on economic issues. When asked to describe their overall political views, without reference to social or economic issues, 40% said they held conservative views, 31% moderate, and 26% liberal. Overall ideological identification is therefore less conservative than for economic issues, but more conservative than for social issues, although closer to the numbers for social issues.
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