February 13, 2018
While all 50 states were right-leaning as recently as 2010, the number of net-conservative states had dropped to 44 by 2016 and had decreased even further, to 39, by 2017, polling results released on February 6 by Gallup reveal.
The poll, which was conducted among some 180,000 adults nationwide, found that, last year, Rhode Island, California, Oregon, Maryland and Washington State all scored as net-liberal for the first time.
Connecticut and New York also have been left-leaning for at least the past two years. And since 2013, Vermont and Massachusetts consistently have had more liberal than conservative self-identifiers.
Gallup measures political ideology by asking respondents whether their political views are very conservative, conservative, moderate, liberal or very liberal. Nationally, in 2017, a combined 35% of adults identified themselves as conservative and 26% as liberal, resulting in a nine-percentage-point conservative advantage. This was down from 11 points from 2016; as well as 15 points from 2008—and 19 points from 1992, Gallup’s baseline year for this measure.
With another 35% of Americans identifying as politically “moderate,” neither liberals nor conservatives dominate in any state. Rather, these are minority-sized groups that affect the ideological balance of each state at the margins.
In line with the drop in conservative-leaning states, net-conservative scores have declined in all but four states since 2008— the first year Gallup produced state-level estimates. The three exceptions where net-conservatism has increased are Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana; Kansas remains the same.
Eight states have seen declines of at least 10 points in net conservatism since 2008: Georgia, California, Oregon, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Vermont and Delaware.
Wyoming in 2017 was the most politically conservative state in the nation for the second consecutive year. Forty-six percent of Wyoming residents identified as conservative and 13% as liberal, yielding a net-conservative score of +33. At the other end of the spectrum, Vermont and Massachusetts were the least conservative states, with liberals outnumbering conservatives by double-digit margins.
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