- 36% of Americans now conservative, 25% liberal
- Liberal figure has inched up from 17% in 1990s
- Conservatives mainly steady, while moderates decline
PRINCETON, N.J. — Many more Americans have considered themselves politically conservative than liberal since the early 1990s. That remained the case in 2016, when an average of 36% of U.S. adults throughout the year identified themselves as conservative and 25% as liberal. Yet that 11-percentage-point margin is half of what it was at its peak in 1996 and is down from 14 points only two years ago.
Since Gallup began routinely measuring Americans’ political ideology in 1992, conservative identification has varied between 36% and 40%. At the same time, there has been a clear increase in the percentage identifying as politically liberal, from 17% to 25%. This has been accompanied by a corresponding decrease in the percentage identifying as “moderate,” from 43% to 34%.
Moderates were consistently the most prevalent group from 1992 to 2002, before first yielding that designation to conservatives in 2003. Within the long-term stability of conservatism, the percentage of Americans self-identifying as conservative jumped to 40% several times between 2003 and 2011, but it has since returned to 36%.
The annual ideology figures are based on combined data from Gallup’s multiday, non-tracking surveys conducted each year, encompassing no fewer than 11,000 interviews, and in most years, more than 20,000 interviews.