It’s a tough time to be a Republican. With factional warfare threatening to tear the GOP apart, the conservative controlled House experiencing some of the lowest approval ratings in history and the continuing fallout from the Republican instigated government shut down all converging on the party as the nation approaches the 2014 midterm elections, it would seem as though the bad news for the right wing simply couldn’t get any worse.
But with a recent Gallup poll now showing the numbers of Americans who self-identify as “liberal” are both growing and at higher rates than they’ve been in twenty years, the party of “no” and philosophies of greed may be facing an impending curtain call, in the face of the growing inequality which is shaping up to be the defining legacy of America’s long and costly experiment with conservative pro-corporate policies.
Using a sample of 18,871 adults polled throughout all 50 states, Gallup found that among them, 23% identified as liberal, with 34% identifying as moderates and 38% as conservatives. With a margin of error of plus or minus 1%, the poll shows a marked decline in conservatism, having dropped from 40% noted during a similar 2010 poll.
The results, though showing a comparative majority for those self identifying as conservative, do not appear to make any note or distinction between the internal factional divides among self-described conservatives, with stark contrasts and divides between neoconservatives, religious fundamentalists and libertarian style conservatives continuing to evolve as the right wing struggles to define itself in the modern age.
Though Gallup’s findings do suggest the shifts in dynamics could lead to increased polarization in the future of the nation’s politics, they’re also finding that much of the increase in liberal self-identification is coming as a result of independents or moderates taking steps of their own to the left.
While not a comprehensively defining study, the results of the poll are suggestive that increasing numbers of Americans, having been given an opportunity to observe the results of a conservative policies and ideologies in government, are beginning to reject the often classist, short-sighted and reactionary politics of the right wing.
A similar poll also conducted by Gallup in October also found that in terms of actual party identification, independents (those who identify as neither Democrats or Conservatives,) have reached record-setting levels, with 42% of respondents identifying as being independent. Democrats held a slight majority over Republicans in terms of polling, claiming 31% of respondent loyalty compared to the GOP’s 25%, which is the lowest its been since such polling began in the 90s.
The rejection of conservatism and the Republican party brand, though gradual and far from Earth shattering, is signaling a notable change in American political opinions, with the increasing numbers beginning to reject the “small government” rhetoric which has generally accompanied elitist policy agendas favoring in the 1% and social policies often rooted in orthodox religious convictions.
While some may blame anything from polling bias (a common retort by conservative pundits and activists, who themselves are increasingly open to the adoption of conspiracy theories,) to data misinterpretation for the results which show a steady decline in American support for right wing conservatism, the realities the nation faces suggest a much different source for the shift.
With an economy struggling beneath the weight of neoliberal economic policies, a society wracked by racial divides and civil rights struggles and a now seemingly endless state of global warfare, nearly all of which has been instigated and supported by conservative politicians, it should come as little surprise that the rapidly diminishing strength of the right wing can be held in easy comparison to the successes of achieving their stated and out-of-touch political agendas.