Politics

Americans Increasingly Identify Themselves As Liberal

| by Oren Peleg

The popular vote count for the 2016 presidential election reveals a growing trend. Although Republican Donald Trump ultimately won the presidency via the Electoral College, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton secured nearly 3 million more votes.

The figure aligns with a recent poll showing Americans are growing increasingly liberal.

According to Gallup, only 36 percent of Americans self-identified as “conservative” for 2016. Of those polled, 34 percent labeled themselves “moderate,” and 25 percent said they are “liberal.” The poll has been tracking American political identities since 1992.

Conservatives saw their highest numbers between 2002 and 2004, and again in 2008, when 40 percent of Americans self-identified as such. Their proportion has decreased steadily since then.

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Moderates have seen losses since the beginning of the poll, when 43 percent of Americans called themselves moderate.

But it is liberals who have seen a steady growth since 1992, when 17 percent of respondents labeled themselves politically liberal.

The gap between liberals and conservatives shrunk from 26 percentage points to 11 points.

One of the biggest contributors to this shift in political ideology may be the ongoing change in U.S. demographics.

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“So, we're just about to hit the point where a majority of infants are minority,” Ezra Klein, founder of Vox, told PBS in February 2016. “Where we're sort of a majority minority nation if you're under 3 years old. That is a profound change for people to live through. And I think it's a change that the political system doesn't know how to talk about, or doesn't ... and, for that matter, frankly, doesn't want to talk about.”

The Latino vote, in particular, is reshaping both the Democratic Party and American politics.

“For the short term, I think it will,” NPR political reporter Asma Khalid said in a discussion group following the November 2016 election. “I mean, they're -- the white working-class vote is a shrinking part of the population. The Latino electorate is growing ... And we know that Hispanics are overwhelmingly a young population. But last thing is I think we will get a better picture of Latino turnout when we see the census numbers. A majority of Latinos did not participate in 2012. We'll see whether or not a majority voted this year.”

Sources: Gallup, NPR, PBS / Photo credit: Phil Roeder/Flickr

Do shifting demographics account for the change in Americans' political ideology?
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