In every state
By Bruce Walker
I have written often about the salient but overlooked fact in public opinion polls: conservatives represent a huge group of America while "liberals" are a much smaller percentage of our nation. The Battleground Poll, for example, is a bipartisan poll put together by a Democrat polling organization and a Republican polling organization. It asked in every poll the same demographic data about those polled. The results, year after year, are almost identical: about sixty percent of Americans call themselves "conservative" and about thirty-five percent of Americans call themselves "liberal." The "moderate" or "don't know" respondents fill up the tiny remainder.
It is surprising how little comfort many conservatives wish to take from this data. Respondents, many who comment on these articles of mine write, do not know what "conservative" and "liberal" mean. (Why, then, do the respondents not respond "Don't know" or the ever safe "moderate"?) Others caution that this conservatism is wallpaper, and when a Social Security rise is at issue, these self-described conservatives will act contrary to their professed ideology. (So why describe themselves as "conservative" at all?) Other conservatives, who refuse to be consoled by good news, argue that the poll results are an aberration. ("Statistical aberrations" in nineteen consecutive highly controlled Battleground Polls over ten years are, simply, not "statistical aberrations" at all.)
Even more heartening, for conservatives, ought to be the fact polling organizations who report the huge conservative predominance in politics appear, if anything, interested in concealing this fact. The vast majority of polls simply do not ask questions about ideology or, if the question is asked, the answer is not reported. We recognize these polling sponsors, like CBS News, USA Today, the New York Times, etc. as hostile to conservatives. So if liberals outnumbered conservatives, wouldn't these polls be trumpeting that fact? Yet no polling organization – not a single one – is making that claim.
Gallup has trekked cautiously into this area and reported, in several polls over several years, how Americans in different states identify themselves ideologically. Rather quietly, on February 25, Gallup published its latest findings. Are there more conservatives than liberals in America? Yes, but more: there are more conservatives than liberals in every single one of the fifty states – Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Hawaii – everywhere in America. When Gallup has asked this question before, in August 2009 and in February 2010 and in August 2010, the results were almost identical.
In the August 2009 poll, conservatives outnumbered liberals in every single state. In the February 2010 poll, the same was true. In the August 2010, liberals outnumbered conservatives by three percent in Rhode Island. Stop for a moment and absorb those polling numbers: the four Gallup Polls asked Americans their ideological identification for each of the fifty states or 200 state results (four polls multiplied by the fifty states.) In those 200 state poll results, conservatives outnumbered liberals 199 times out of 200 state polls.
Do we need more evidence that these are valid and vital numbers? Consider how Gallup chose to describe its polls, what title did it give to the news stories it generated from these polls? Surely the utter domination of conservatives over liberals would be stunning political fact, trumpeted by the polling organization that discovered this fact? Well…no.
In August 2009, Gallup shot up flares with the dumbfounding news "Political Ideology: Label 'Conservative' Label Prevails in South." Six months after that, in February 2010 Gallup revealed the stunning news "Ideology: Deep Three South States Most Conservative." Six months later, when Gallup polled this question again in August 2010, this news was revealed with the sizzling title "Wyoming, Mississippi, Utah Rank as Most Conservative States." What was the headline grabbing title of the article Gallup published with its February 2011 poll results? (Don't faint from shock!) Gallup reported the story with the headline "Mississippi Rates as Most Conservative US State."
The pattern is clear. Gallup is not particularly interested in proclaiming the good news that it found for conservatives in America. Anyone truly enlightened by the news that the South is the most conservative part of America or that Wyoming and Utah are very conservative is not a true student of American society or government. The fact, however, that Gallup found in New York, Massachusetts, California, and Vermont in four straight polls more conservatives than liberals in each of those states is big news. As I wrote in August 2008, the huge advantage that conservatives have over liberals is the "Biggest Missing Story in Politics." It was then, and it is now.
Bruce Walker is the author of Poor Lenin's Almanac: Perverse Leftists Proverbs for Modern Life.