01/10/2014 05:14 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

HUFFPOLLSTER: 'Liberal' Democrats Now Outnumber 'Moderates'


The term "liberal" has grown steadily more acceptable among Democrats over the past 10 years. Two political scientists offer a theory for why so many Americans claim to be "independent" when they vote like partisans. And a sudden blitz of ACA insurance ads doesn't materialize. This is HuffPollster for Friday, January 10, 2014.

GALLUP: LIBERAL SELF-ID 'EDGES UP' - "Americans continue to be more likely to identify as conservatives (38%) than as liberals (23%). But the conservative advantage is down to 15 percentage points as liberal identification edged up to its highest level since Gallup began regularly measuring ideology in the current format in 1992. The figures are based on combined data from 13 separate Gallup polls, including interviews with more than 18,000 Americans, conducted in 2013. When Gallup began asking about ideological identification in all its polls in 1992, an average 17% of Americans said they were liberal. That dipped to 16% in 1995 and 1996, but has gradually increased, exceeding 20% each year since 2005." [Gallup]


Recent change is slight and potentially suspect... - Note that enormous sample sizes involved -- 18,871 interviews in 2013 alone -- make almost any change statistically significant. Nonetheless, the change in liberal identification since 2011 is still relatively small (+2 percentage points), and it coincides with key changes in late 2012 and early 2013 in the way Gallup measures and weights by racial subgroups. These changes reduced the "house effects" apparent in Gallup's measurement of President Obama's approval rating in 2011 and 2012. [see HuffPost]

...but long term shift among Democrats is substantial - Scott Clement: "While the one-year shift is small (and not duplicated in Washington Post-ABC News polls, which find 22 percent liberal in 2012 and 2013), one finding is crystal clear: More Democrats are identifying as liberals, and today they outnumber moderates within the party. Indeed, 43 percent of Democrats called themselves liberal in 2013, compared with just 32 percent who said this 10 years ago. The shift toward liberal identity has come about equally from moderates (minus five points since 2003) and conservatives (minus six points). By contrast, the trend line for liberal identity among Republicans and independents is flat." [WaPost]


MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION? SAY YOU'RE AN 'INDEPENDENT' - Yanna Krupnikov and Samara Klar offer an explanation for why Americans are more likely to describe themselves as independent while still behaving like partisans: "When people see politics in the news and entertainment media, they see partisan gridlock and disagreement. Partisans are portrayed as uncooperative, uncompromising and angry. This perception of partisans leads ordinary people to be embarrassed about admitting – including to pollsters – that they identify with a political party. Instead, people have come to believe that they will make a better impression if they say they are independent. In one of our first studies on the topic, we randomly assigned survey respondents to two groups. We instructed the first group to answer the question “what is your partisanship?” in a way that they believed would make the most positive impression on another person. We instructed the second group to answer the very same question in a way that they believed would make the most negative impression on another person.
The results were striking: when asked to make a 'positive impression' nearly 60 percent more people reported that they were independents, as compared to those who were asked to make a negative impression." [WaPost's Monkey Cage]

MOST AMERICANS NOT SEEING A BLITZ OF HEALTH INSURANCE ADS - With Emily Swanson: "The long-anticipated ad campaign to sell Obamacare has not started yet, according to a series of polls conducted by The Huffington Post and YouGov….The Huffington Post and YouGov conducted a series of three weekly polls on Dec. 18-19,Dec. 27-28 and Jan. 2-3. The data from those surveys, combined with ad tracking information provided by Kantar Media, showed little change in the number of health care ads Americans recalled seeing towards the end of 2013. Each survey found that most Americans remembered seeing ads for health insurance, and many remembered seeing those favoring or opposing the new health care law during the previous month. But the percentage of people who reported seeing each type of ad remained stable over the course of the three surveys." [HuffPost]

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FRIDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data that we missed during our holiday break (starting with a few new items from today:

-An overnight automated poll finds Chris Christie's favorable rating in New Jersey dropping to 55 percent from 63 percent last October. [Rasmussen Reports]

-Christie's press conference on Thursday did little to dampen criticism of him on Twitter. [Pew Research]

-Gallup finds no change in attitudes on the Affordable Care Act since November; 48 percent say it will make "the healthcare situation" worse, 35 percent say it will make it better. [Gallup]

-53 percent of Americans rank cigarette smoking as a serious public health problem. [Pew Research]

-Cliff Young argues that Obama's second-term decline isn't uniquely due to the ACA. [Ipsos]

-The RNC uses fundraising emails to ask about potential 2016 GOP nominees. [HuffPost]

-YouGov's tracking shows plunge in consumer perceptions of Target since data breach. [@AshleyLutz]