Americans are now more likely to be socially liberal than conservative for the first time since Gallup started collecting polls for the question back in 2001, the pollster reported Thursday, reflecting a broader trend of Americans becoming increasingly liberal on social issues over the past decade - even though a far higher share of Americans still holds conservative views.
According to Gallup's poll, which was conducted between May 3rd - 18th among 1,016 U.S. adults, thirty-four percent of adults now identify as socially liberal and thirty percent as socially conservative, though the largest share of respondents (thirty-five percent) hold moderate views.
In 2015 and 2018, more respondents have identified as socially conservative, with thirty-six percent identifying as conservative and twenty-eight percent as liberal.
Between 2001 and 2012, social conservatives had a twelve-point advantage over social liberals on average, Gallup notes, which then narrowed to a single-digit difference starting in 2013.
While Americans' social views are more evenly divided, a far more distinct majority at forty-one percent identify as economically conservative, as compared with thirty-four percent who are moderate in their views and twenty-five percent economically liberal.
Conservatives have always outnumbered liberals by double digits, though there has been a noticeable increase in the share identifying as economically liberal, rising to twenty-five percent from eighteen percent in 2019.
The rise in social liberalism has been driven by Democrats who are identifying more as socially liberal than conservative, Gallup notes, along with college graduates increasingly identifying as socially liberal.
But what took us by surprise is that while younger individuals are far more likely to identify as liberal in comparison to older adults, all age groups have become increasingly liberal over the past twenty years.
Adults aged between eighteen - thirty-four were largely split on social issues in 2001 and are now "substantially" more liberal in 2021, Gallup reports, while thirty-five - fifty-four-year-olds have gone from "modestly conservative" to "slightly more liberal than conservative." Those ages fifty-five and above have become "slightly less" socially conservative, though a majority still hold conservative views.
Gallup also notes declines in socially conservative views have been "roughly equal" between white Americans and non-white Americans, though white Americans are still more likely to be both socially and economically conservative.
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