The Percentage of “Social Conservatives” Surges

The Percentage of “Social Conservatives” Surges June 14, 2023

Social conservatives feel demonized, marginalized, and defeated.  To the point that many of them are considering dropping out of political activism or giving up on cultural issues to concentrate on less divisive causes.

But lo and behold, it turns out that the percentage of Americans who consider themselves social conservatives is surging!  And the percentage of social liberals is dropping significantly.

Those are the findings of a Gallup Poll, the gold standard of opinion surveys.  In the annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted just last month, researchers found at 38% of Americans said that they were conservative or very conservative on social issues.  This is a jump from last year’s 33%, which was a jump from 30% in 2021.

For the past two years, 34% of Americans said that they are liberal or very liberal on social issues.  This year the percentage has dropped to only 29%.  The percentage of “moderates” has remained about the same at 31%.

This means that the percentage of social conservatives is the highest it has been since 2012.

Americans are even more conservative when it comes to economic issues, with 44% saying they are conservative or very conservative; 33% moderate; and only 21% liberal or very liberal.

In fact, a majority of Democrats have doubts about liberal economics.  Less than half, 48%, say they are liberal or very liberal on economic issues, with 35% saying they are moderate and 16% saying they are conservative.

On social issues, Democrats are more predictable, with 10% being conservative, 27% being moderate, and  62% being liberal.

The popularity of conservatism is manifesting itself in the Republican party catching up to and passing the Democrats in the number of adherents.  In both 2020 and 2021, 32% of Americans identified as Democrats with 29% identifying as Republicans.  In 2023, the percentage of Democrats has dropped to 29% and the percentage of Republicans has risen to 30%.

So what is going on?  Why is the percentage of social conservatives growing so much?  And why is this such surprising news to social conservatives, who have mostly been convinced they are losing?

Now it would help for Gallup to define their terms.  What beliefs characterize “social conservatives”?  Opposition to abortion?  The rejection of transgenderism?  Is “economic conservativism” about balanced budgets and avoiding debt?  Or free market capitalism?  Free trade or buying American?  Probably more information from this “Values and Beliefs” survey will be forthcoming.

My theory for the growth of social conservatism is this:  Americans are a tolerant lot, willing to let people do pretty much what they want.  Thus the broad-based acceptance of gays and same-sex marriage.  Same with individuals who want to change their gender.

But then this new acceptance was pushed to an extreme.  Thrown into everybody’s face.  It wasn’t enough for the public to tolerate these kinds of things.  Everyone must approve of them.  Otherwise, you will be condemned as a bigot.

When people are attacked, they are typically not persuaded.  Rather, they become defensive.  Which makes them impossible to persuade.  And they likely move to a harder position.

And when transgenderism is turned into an ideology that impinges on individuals who do not go along with that ideology, those individuals will react in the opposite direction.  Pronoun mandates are bad enough.  But indoctrinating parents’ children into this ideology and subjecting them to sexual mutilation and making them infertile–few parents can accept this.

And the absurdity of it all–the notion that merely identifying as a different gender means you must be treated as having a different sex, so that we have biological males competing in women’s sports, going to women’s bathrooms, winning “women of the year” recognitions, claiming to be lesbians so they can have sex with women, etc., etc.–is a sure formula for creating social conservatives.

Furthermore, the whole woke mentality–which requires constant monitoring of your speech and actions, along with the risk of a mistake being punished by losing your job or reputation–creates deep resentment.  People may not dare admit to disapproving, but they do.

And, ironically, since our media and corporate elite and all of their peers tend to be Democrats, 62% of which are very liberal about such things, they assume that these highly-contested and controversial issues are settled values.  So they are genuinely surprised when so many  customers of Bud Light, Target, or Thrivent (formerly the Aid Association for Lutherans) turn against them for embracing everything LGBTQ+.

All of this is to say that over-reaching creates a reaction in the opposite direction.

That’s my theory for the resurgence of social conservatism.  Feel free to offer other theories and explanations.

So what should social conservatives do, now that their numbers have grown so much?  After all, an alliance with moderates would amount to a progressive-skeptical majority of 69%!  And surely the opinions of a mere 29% of the public cannot carry the day for long.


Image by Mohamed Hassan from PxHere .  CC0, Public Domain


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