The increased conservatism that Gallup first identified among Americans last June persisted throughout the year, so that the final year-end political ideology figures confirm Gallup's initial reporting: conservatives (40%) outnumbered both moderates (36%) and liberals (21%) across the nation in 2009.
More broadly, the percentage of Americans calling themselves either conservative or liberal has increased over the last decade, while the percentage of moderates has declined.
Since 1992, there have been only two other years -- 2003 and 2004 -- in which the average percentage of conservatives nationwide outnumbered moderates, and in both cases, it was by two percentage points (in contrast to the current four points).
The rather abrupt three-point increase between 2008 and 2009 in the percentage of Americans calling themselves conservative is largely owing to an increase -- from 30% to 35% -- in the percentage of political independents adopting the label. Over the same period, there was only a slight increase in professed conservatism among Republicans (from 70% to 71%) and no change among Democrats (at 21%).
The 2009 findings come from an aggregate of 21 separate Gallup and USA Today/Gallup surveys, including nearly 22,000 interviews. The 1992 to 2008 trends also represent thousands of interviews compiled for each year. Thus, the margins of sampling error around the individual estimates are less than one percentage point. (continues here)