Conservative Views Among Americans Are at Decade High, Poll Finds

Conservative Views Among Americans Are at Decade High, Poll Finds
Pro-life and pro-abortion activists hold signs with opposing views during the 50th annual March for Life rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Jan. 20, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Savannah Hulsey Pointer

A growing number of Americans identify as very conservative or conservative on social and economic issues, according to the latest Gallup Values and Beliefs survey.

The study, conducted from May 1 to May 24, revealed a significant increase in social conservatism, reaching its highest level since 2012. The trend coincides with ongoing debates on transgender rights, abortion, crime, drug use, and the teaching of gender and sexuality in schools.

The survey data indicate that 38 percent of Americans consider themselves very conservative or conservative on social issues, compared to 33 percent in 2022 and 30 percent in 2021.

Conversely, the percentage of individuals identifying as very liberal or liberal on social issues dipped to 29 percent from 34 percent in the previous two years. The remaining 31 percent of respondents described themselves as moderate, a figure that has remained relatively stable.

The surge in conservative identification extends across various political and demographic subgroups. Notably, Republicans exhibited one of the largest increases, with 74 percent identifying as socially conservative, compared to 60 percent in 2021. Independents have experienced a modest uptick, rising to 29 percent from 24 percent, while Democrats have seen no change, with 10 percent identifying as socially conservative in 2021 and 2023.

Double-digit increases in conservative social ideology among middle-aged adults, specifically those between the ages of 30 and 64, have occurred since 2021. In contrast, older Americans’ views on social issues have remained stable, while there has been a slight increase in conservative social ideology among young adults.

On economic issues, the survey reveals that 44 percent of Americans identify as very conservative or conservative, while 33 percent consider themselves moderate and 21 percent describe themselves as very liberal or liberal. The figure for economic conservatism represents the highest level since 2012, surpassing the average of 40 percent observed between 2020 and 2022.

The long-standing trend of Americans identifying as economically conservative rather than liberal can be attributed to the dominance of conservative self-identification among Republicans, the poll found. In 2023, an overwhelming 79 percent of Republicans identified as economically conservative, compared to 48 percent of Democrats who identified as economically liberal.

More independents lean toward economic conservatism (36 percent) than liberalism (16 percent), with approximately half describing themselves as moderate on economic matters.

The study suggests that changes in political party identification primarily drive the slight shifts in economic ideology among Americans. While the overall ideological identification remained less conservative than on economic issues, it’s closer to the figures observed for social issues.

When asked about their political views without reference to social or economic matters, 40 percent of Americans described themselves as conservative, 31 percent as moderate, and 26 percent as liberal.

Other Changes

The rise in social conservatism aligns with the current national debate surrounding various controversial issues. The increased prominence of transgender rights, abortion, and other contentious matters appears to have fostered an environment conducive to passing conservative-leaning social legislation, particularly in Republican-dominated states.

Recent state-level actions have seen the implementation of stricter abortion restrictions, limitations on transgender youth participation in sports and health care choices, and restrictions on classroom discussions.

While Americans remain more likely to identify as conservative on economic issues, the survey findings demonstrate a shifting landscape of ideological perspectives in the country.

The survey sheds light on the evolving dynamics of public opinion and highlights the impact of ongoing debates on social and economic matters in shaping Americans’ political views.

Targeting Conservatives

Recent reports indicate that despite the rising conservative population, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is allegedly targeting conservatives, Christians, and Republicans with an anti-terrorism program. A recent report by a nonprofit organization described this program in detail.

Dan Schneider, vice president of the Media Research Center (MRC), said that through Freedom of Information Act requests, the MRC was able to obtain documents demonstrating that federal funds allocated to the DHS’s program to prevent violence and terrorism were used to target conservatives.

The Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grant Program provided funding for several levels of government, as well as nonprofits and other groups, to prevent being targeted by terrorists.
The program was formed to counter targeted violence, Schneider told EpochTV’s “Crossroads.”

However, because the application for a grant is extremely vague, projects applying for funding under the program often focus on “media literacy,” according to Schneider.

According to the DHS, the University of Rhode Island used the 2022 grant to combat disinformation, conspiracy theories, propaganda, and domestic extremism in local communities.

In 2022, the DHS program awarded 43 grants, totaling $20 million, to “state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, nonprofits, and institutions of higher education,” according to the DHS statement.
The funding was sourced out of the Countering Violent Extremism Grant Program, which was initially proposed by former President Barack Obama in 2011 and halted by former President Donald Trump in 2017. President Joe Biden made a campaign pledge to replace the Trump administration’s Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Program but eventually ended up revamping the initiative.

According to a DHS statement, the department established a new center to replace the office that administered the program during the Trump administration and created a new intelligence division within the department dedicated to domestic terrorism.

Both new sections have been charged with “comprehensively combating domestic violent extremism, including violent white supremacy,” according to the statement.

Ella Kietlinska and Joshua Philipp contributed to this report.
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