The clear break in this tie which gave rise to the prevalence of conservatives was mainly due to changing opinions among Independent voters. While in 2008, 29% of Independents described their views as conservative, today that number has jumped up 6% to a significant total of 36% of Independents who feel that way.
For Republicans, this is good news but it is really nothing new. Most Americans have consistently been more conservative than liberal. In fact, since 1992 the liberal label has only been accepted by a maximum high of 22% of Americans. That high was achieved last year, when Barack Obama was waving the liberal banner and running for President. A year later, and fewer people are willing to identify themselves with the President’s ideology, a trend that is similar to his own approval ratings which are also on the decline. So although the conservative to liberal advantage is not new, the tide is turning increasingly in favor of Republicans. What this means is, that if the Republican Party were to get their act together and start leading like conservatives and representing conservative policies and values, they might just be able to take advantage of the conservative inclinations that most Americans have.
The data revealed by Gallup shows that in addition to an increase in the trend to conservative identification, many Americans have also begun to take more conservative positions on issues such regulation, immigration, abortion, the sale of firearms and even the influence of unions.
More Americans believe there is too much government regulation of business and industry, too much influence by unions (a 10% increase since last year), want less immigration (up 11%) and the number of Americans who believe claims of global warming are exaggerated has risen from 35% to 41%.
In another breakdown of the polling data, the base of each political party is also very telling.
Among Republicans, 72% consider themselves conservative while only 4 % are self described liberal Republicans and 24% are moderate. Among Independents, while 35% are conservative, 43% moderate and 18% liberal, it is here where the switch to conservatism has seen its largest increase. 6% more than last year.
Troublesome for the Democrats however is the fact that the base of the Democrat Party is still out of touch with the majority of Americans. While 39% of Democrat voters claim to be moderate, 37% proudly proclaim liberal views and only 22% call themselves conservative. That is up one from last year and even though the liberal label is worn by two percent fewer Democrats than last year, there still exists a disconnect in the Democrat Party.
With such a large liberal base dictating party policy, Democrats will continue to move further and further away from popular American opinion which is continuously trending more and more conservative.
These numbers mean nothing unless Republicans begin to start preaching the conservative policies that most Americans identify with and then prove that they are capable of practicing what they preach. If the GOP can get back on track and back in sync with the majority of Americans who want conservative leadership they should easily be able to translate that into votes for them over Democrats whose liberal leadership and practices are out of sync with the inclinations of most voters.