While many Democrats are calling for a shift back to the left and a rejection of the Clinton establishment, a recent poll from Gallup suggests that the population is moving further away from the party’s liberal wing. Indeed, Gallup found that more Americans consider themselves conservative than liberal. Yet, the real story is the loss from the middle of the spectrum.
Gallup found that an average of 36% of U.S. adults identified themselves as conservative in 2016 while only 25% identified themselves as liberal. There is still some good news for Dems. The 11 point margin was 14 points just two years ago. Moreover, it is half of the margin at its peak in 1996.
Gallup has been polling on such ideological identification since 1992. The polls show a move to the extremes of the spectrum. In 1992, some 17% called themselves liberal while in 2016 it was 25%. Nevertheless, the majority of Americans remain in the middle and increasingly isolated from both parties. They remains the largest group in American politics but the extremes on the political spectrum tend to control the two major parties in their primaries.
It is the trend on moderates that I found most interesting in the poll. There has been a decrease in the percentage of voters identifying as “moderate” from 43% to 34%. While still quite a large group, conservatives are now the most prevalent group. This would suggest that moderates and conservatives could be an overwhelming alliance if the Republican party were to tack more to the center of the spectrum.