Gallup: Americans More Conservative Than Liberal on Social Issues, But Liberals Are Gaining

By Shannon Quick | May 28, 2013 | 11:43 AM EDT

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( – A recent Gallup Poll shows a shift in American ideology as social liberalism reached an all-time high and economic conservatism hit a five-year low.

Nevertheless, a greater percentage of Americans continue to describe themselves as conservative than liberal on both social and economic issues.

In a survey conducted the first week of May, respondents were asked to identify themselves as liberal, moderate, or conservative on economic issues and (separately) on social issues.

Thirty percent identified themselves as liberal on social issues, a 13-percent increase from 2001, and an all-time high. But a greater percentage -- 35 percent -- said they are conservative or very conservative on social issues and 32 percent identified as socially moderate.

(The interpretation of what qualifies as an economic or social issue was left to the respondent; the question did not define or provide examples.)

The percentage of Americans calling themselves economic liberals remained virtually unchanged from last year at 19 percent, and that percentage has not fluctuated much since 2001, Gallup said.

And while 41 percent of Americans characterized their economic views as "conservative," or "very conservative," that’s the lowest percentage since President Barack Obama took office in 2009 and on par with where views were in May 2008.

This year's downtick in the percentage of Americans identifying as economically conservative was accompanied by an uptick in the percentage identifying as economically moderate -- now 37 percent of Americans, up from 32 percent last year.

The implications, according to Gallup: "It is possible that Americans are returning to a certain sense of normalcy on economic ideology, while social ideology continues to charter new ground."

The telephone survey of 1535 adults took place May 2-7 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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