from The Wall Street Journal - Washington Wire
There are signs that liberals are making a comeback — and not just because a socialist is running for president, gay marriage is spreading like wildfire and pot legalization is gaining acceptance.
A new analysis of Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll data finds a marked increase in the share of registered voters identifying themselves as liberals, and an even bigger drop in the share saying they are conservatives.
In three national polls conducted so far in 2015, the analysis found that 26% of registered voters identified themselves as liberals — up from 23% in 2014. At the same time, the share of voters identifying as conservatives dropped to 33% from 37% in 2014.
The analysis by GOP pollster Bill McInturff, who looked at survey data from 2010 to 2015, found that the biggest ideological shifts came among women, young people, Latinos and well-educated voters, as well as people in the West and in cities.
From 2010 through 2014, there was little overall variation in the share of people identifying themselves as conservative, moderate and liberal, with conservatives either a plurality or tied with moderates. But that stability seems to be ending this year. For the first time since 2010, conservatives are no longer a plurality: 38% identify as moderates, compared with the 33% who identify as conservative and 26% as liberal.
Mr. McInturff said it wasn’t immediately clear what accounts for the shift. Another poll analysis by Gallup also suggests there has been a leftward movement on social issues: 31% of adults in a May 6-10 poll identified themselves as liberal on social issues — the largest share since Gallup started asking the question in 1999, and the first time social liberals matched the share who said they were socially conservative. On economic issues, by contrast, conservatives continued to dominate by a 39%-19% margin.
These signs of an ideological shift come at a time when public opinion is rapidly changing in favor of gay marriage — a social view long regarded as liberal that is gaining wider acceptance among members of both parties. On the broader political landscape this year, liberal populism is gaining prominence in the anti-Wall Street rhetoric of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, and of liberal icon Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“Americans’ growing social liberalism is evident not only in how they describe their views on social issues but also in changes in specific attitudes, such as increased support for same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana,” the Gallup report said.
Mr. McInturff’s analysis of WSJ/NBC data found that the demographic group that now has the most liberals – and that has seen the most dramatic swing to the left since 2010 — is women aged 18-49. Among those voters in 2015 polls, 37% said they were liberal, 23% said they were conservative — a 20 point swing since 2010 when 27% said they were liberal and 33% said they were conservative.
Younger voters also saw a notable swing to the left, with 35% of 18-34-year-olds saying they are liberal and 26% saying the are conservative. In 2010, that age group split 28% liberal-32% conservative.