More Americans consider themselves to be conservative on social issues than at any point in the past decade
By Dave Andrusko
Gallup reports on the results of a fascinating study this morning, offering insight into the growing number of Americans who say they are conservative on social issues, including abortion. “The results are based on Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey, conducted May 1-24,” according to Jeffrey M. Jones. In the past, conclusions from the survey have been teased out in several subsequent reports. It’s really interesting.
Back to Jones.
More Americans this year (38%) say they are very conservative or conservative on social issues than said so in 2022 (33%) and 2021 (30%). At the same time, the percentage saying their social views are very liberal or liberal has dipped to 29% from 34% in each of the past two years, while the portion identifying as moderate (31%) remains near a third.
The last time this many Americans said they were socially conservative was 2012, during a period when consistently more U.S. adults identified as conservative rather than liberal on social issues.
In fact, nearly all political and demographic subgroups “show the increase in conservative identification on social issues over the past two years,” Jones writes. “Republicans show one of the largest increases, from 60% in 2021 to 74% today. Independents show a modest uptick of five percentage points, from 24% to 29%, while there has been no change among Democrats (10% in both 2021 and 2023).”
According to Jared Gans of The Hill, “Gallup had not found as many identifying as social conservatives since 2012, which it said was a time when respondents consistently identified more as conservative than liberal on social issues.” Gans added, “The percentage of Republicans who now say they are socially conservative rose significantly in the past two years, from 60 percent to 74 percent.”
So what, according to Gallup, is the”bottom line”?
For most of the past eight years, Americans were about as likely to say they were liberal as conservative on social issues. This year, there is a more obvious conservative advantage. The shift is mostly due to increasing social conservatism among Republicans at a time when social issues … such as abortion and other hot-button concerns are prominent in the national public debate.
Looking to the future, Jones believes “Greater social conservatism may be fostering an environment more favorable to passing conservative-leaning social legislation, especially in Republican-dominated states. Indeed, in the past year, many Republican states have passed stricter constraints on abortions” and other issues.