Political Philosophy in North Carolina Update
Earlier this week, Gallup made national headlines with a new poll showing that self-described “conservatives” were now the single largest ideological group nationally. While the news of conservative gains may be of national news, this is nothing new to North Carolina where Civitas polling over the past four years has clearly shown conservatives as the largest ideology in North Carolina.
The gap between conservative and liberal has been closing over the past two years, however. The largest gap between conservative and liberal came in the fall of 2007 when 47 percent of voters identified themselves as conservative, while only 14 percent were liberals. Since then, liberals have increased by 11 percentage points to now compromise 25 percent of voters according to our May 2009 poll.
Conservative identification appears to have bottomed out around November 2008 at 41 percent and since has rebounded slighly to 43 percent last month.
Over the past few months there has been an interesting increase in the number of liberals with a seemingly correlated decrease in moderates. This can pretty much be traced directly to a shift in African-American voters. As President Obama has embraced the liberal label, African-Americans have become more comfortable identifying themselves as such.
Since September 2007, the percentage of African-Americans identifying themselves as liberal has increased from 20 percent to 38 percent while the percentage that identify as moderate has conversely dropped from 40 percent to 27 percent. The percentage identifying as conservative, however, has remained steady at 33 percent. Basically, we are seeing an identification shift in African-American voters from moderate to liberal which accounts for the recently seen uptick in overall liberal voter identification.
It should also be pointed out that if you look at each of the lines in the graph above from beginning to end, they are all within a few percentage points of where they were in January of 2006.