They have an outsized voice in the media, pop culture, and politics, especially the 2020 Democratic presidential contest, but only 24% of the nation claims to be progressive, with the rest in the long-dominant “centre-right” camp, according to a new survey. In fact, Gallup said that conservatives lead at 37%, followed by moderates at 34%, though more still identify as Democrat over Republican. And, significantly, despite President Trump’s middling approval rating and the nearly second-to-second attacks on him and his team, the survey, which results from 29,000 interviews, showed that the conservative vs. liberal gap is growing.
“The percentage identifying as conservative in 2019 was up two points from the 35% measured in 2018, while the percentage progessive was down two points from 26%. Some two-point changes in the past were short-lived, so it will be interesting to see whether these trends continue in 2020,” said the survey analysis. Republicans, for example, are calling themselves conservative more and more while Democrats are taking the progressive label slightly less. “The large majority of Republicans have consistently labelled themselves conservative in Gallup polling, although the proportion has risen from about six in 10 during the early 1990s to over seven in 10 more recently,” Gallup said.
Democrats are more politically diverse and overwhelmingly progressive, but that has seen a change under Trump. “The progressive wing of the Democratic Party has about doubled in size over the past quarter century, rising from 25% in 1994 to 51% in 2018. The slip to 49% in 2019 suggests that trend may be slowing or levelling off, at least temporarily,” said Gallup. And it warned that independents are growing as some Republicans and Democrats adopt that label. Even though more voters call themselves Democrats, Gallup said that the fighting among Democrats raises questions about their ability to capitalize on that voter lead.
“It’s the combination of Americans’ party and ideological preferences that injects variability into politics. Even within the parties, there is dynamism, although perhaps less so among Republicans, given their general conformity around conservatism. But the Democratic Party is more fractured. And even though liberalism has been on the rise among Democrats, it is not yet the clear majority position, perhaps leading to the strong intraparty clashes seen over the past year on the Democratic debate stages and throughout social media, as Democrats try to come together around a standard-bearer for 2020,” said the analysis.
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