New numbers from Gallup this morning paint an interesting ideological picture of the country. Over the past year, Wyoming and Mississippi have come to share the mantle of the most conservative states in the Union—an apparently sought-after title with about a dozen states close behind. The most liberal is the District of Columbia, trailed by much of the Northeast—which isn’t exactly a surprise.
From what I can tell, there are two notable data points here. One is that ideology isn’t geographic. The South, long considered the caldron of conservativism, may be losing its grip. Of the top five most conservative states, only two are in the South. The others—Wyoming, South Dakota and Utah—are undeniable red states, yes, but still notable considering they’ve become the most conservative states.
The other point is that conservatives appear much more proud of being conservative than liberals are about being liberal. In the top 10 most conservative states, more than 46 percent identify as conservatives. On the liberal side, only D.C. has a number in the 40s. Most of the rest only have about a quarter of the state identifying as liberal. It could have something to do with the vilification of the term “liberal” over the past decade—a battle conservatives successfully won by painting pictures of out-of-control spenders who were soft on terrorism and against economic growth. It’s curious whether the term “progressive” would elicit different responses.
My boss, NEWSWEEK editor Jon Meacham, likes to point out that America is a center-right country. With Democrats controlling most of the federal government, that doesn’t always seem true. But numbers like these suggest a more comprehensive view at how our ideological divide, divides.