Jeffrey Jacobs of Gallup writes, “U.S. Party Preferences Have Swung Sharply Toward Democrats.” And Gallup’s Lydia Saad reports, “Americans’ ideological bent has shifted in the first half of 2020 with fewer people self-identifying as politically conservative in May and June than at the start of the year. There has been a corresponding increase in self-described liberals while the percentage moderate has been fairly steady.”
Here is the evidence:
These reports of 2020 Gallup polls made me curious about the longer term trend. Here are Gallup results for party ID since 2004.
And here are the trends for conservatives and liberals, showing one annual result for every year until 2019, and then the three polls this year:
(By depicting the ideology data this way, I have made 2020 look uniquely volatile. I can’t find more data points before 2020, but I’m sure the lines would zig-zag more.)
A few observations:
- Many more Americans are always comfortable calling themselves conservatives than liberals. It is not the case that many people place themselves left of liberal or identify as “progressives” instead of liberals, because almost everyone picks either conservative, liberal, or moderate. However, the content of those labels shifts. To be liberal in 2020 means different things than it meant in 1992, and that is where the left has a greater advantage.
- The beginning of 2020 was one of the peaks for conservative identification. The level this June was typical.
- Republican identification in June 2020 (39%) was lower than it was in 82% of Gallup’s surveys since 2004, but it was not unprecedented. Republican identification was at 36% as recently as January 2019.
- Democrats have a longterm advantage in party ID. Republicans have been ahead in 12% of Gallup’s surveys since 2004.
- Each party tends to get more support when the other one holds the presidency, but George W. Bush boosted Democratic identification more than Barack Obama helped Republicans. Bush also did more damage to his own party than Trump has done to his, so far. However, I think the bottom may well fall out for the GOP between now and the end of the year. They could reach the same level as in fall 2006, when they trailed the Dems. by 56%-34%, and Nancy Pelosi became Speaker.