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Friday, May 25, 2012

Public Opinion: Ideology and Social Issues

Our chapter on public opinion looks at political ideology.  Gallup reports some new data:
Americans are more than twice as likely to identify themselves as conservative rather than liberal on economic issues, 46% to 20%. The gap is narrower on social issues, but conservatives still outnumber liberals, 38% to 28%.

For the most part, Americans fall on the same ideological side on economic and social issues. Sixty-one percent are conservative, moderate, or liberal on both dimensions, with the largest percentage, 31%, conservative on both. Fifteen percent are liberal on both social and economic issues, and 15% are moderate on both.

Gallup also finds:
The 41% of Americans who now identify themselves as "pro-choice" is down from 47% last July and is one percentage point below the previous record low in Gallup trends, recorded in May 2009. Fifty percent now call themselves "pro-life," one point shy of the record high, also from May 2009.
But lest anyone think that the conservative trend is uniform, consider opinion on sexual orientation:
The slight majority of American adults, 54%, consider gay or lesbian relations morally acceptable. Public acceptance of gay/lesbian relations as morally acceptable grew slowly but steadily from 38% in 2002 to 56% in 2011 and is now holding at the majority level.

This Gallup trend mirrors the growth in public support for legalizing gay marriage, which has risen from 42% support in 2004 to 50% or greater support in the last two years. Americans' support for gay rights on both questions leveled off in this year's Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 3-6.