Conservative and liberal States
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Wyoming was the most conservative U.S. state in 2013, replacing Alabama, which fell to 10th place. The District of Columbia was once again the most liberal area in the United States, with Vermont and Massachusetts having the highest percentage of liberals among the 50 states.
The most conservative states are located primarily in the South and West, while the most liberal states are found on the East and West Coasts of the United States, with the exception of Hawaii. The top 10 liberal states all voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, while the top 10 conservative states all voted for the Republican nominees - John McCain and Mitt Romney, respectively - in those years.
For the most part, the top conservative states align with the most Republican states in the union, and the top liberal states, with the most Democratic areas. Yet Kansas and Nebraska, two of the most solid Republican states, do not fall among the top 10 conservative states. Similarly, the Democratic states of Maryland, Illinois, Connecticut, and New Mexico are not among the top 10 liberal states, but Gallup found that they were among the solid Democratic states in 2013.
Conservative Advantage Still Predominant, Yet Down From 2012
The national "conservative advantage, " defined as the percentage of residents self-identifying as conservative minus the percentage self-identifying as liberal in each state, was at 14.6 percentage points in 2013. Given that national advantage, only three states (Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Vermont) have a negative score, along with the District of Columbia, meaning they have more liberals than conservatives.
In 2012, the conservative advantage overall was 15.9 points, suggesting that the gap between conservative and liberal self-identification is narrowing. Full results by state can be found on page 2.
There may have been more "blue" states than "red" states in 2013, but a clear majority of Americans are ideologically at the center or right of center. How do Democrats continue to win elections if so few Americans identify themselves as liberal? The answer may lie with moderates, which, as a voting bloc, are solidly Democratic. If moderates begin voting with Republicans in the near or long-term future, there may indeed be a Republican revival on the national level.
Yet while less than a quarter of Americans consider themselves ideologically liberal, the term has been steadily increasingly in popularity over a generation. This may be attributable to Americans becoming more comfortable with the term again. Once a popular staple of the civil rights and protest era of the 1960s and 1970s, the term "liberal" was later derided on the national stage - for example, when George H.W. Bush scornfully used the term against Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election. 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