Is America Becoming More Conservative? Why?

Why has the economic crisis deepened America’s conservative drift? The trend towards the hard right is most pronounced in the least well off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states.


It is a fascinating glimpse into the Human (or is it American?) Psyche — and I am very curious about it:


Consider these fascinating bullet points from Gallup:

• Conservative states are considerably more religious than liberal-leaning states. And, this correlation between religion is increasing

• Conservative states are also less educated than liberal ones; This correlation between conservative affiliation and education (percent of adults who are college graduates) is also substantially higher than before.

• States with more conservatives are less diverse.

• Conservative political affiliation is highly negatively correlated with the percent of the population that are immigrants or gay and lesbian.

• There is no correlation to race or ethnicity, however, whether measured as percent white, percent black, or percent Hispanic (Fascinating).

• Conservative political affiliation is strongly correlated with percentage of a state’s workforce in blue-collar occupations;

• Conservative political affiliation is highly negatively correlated with proportion of workforce engaged in knowledge-based professional and creative work.

• States with more conservatives are considerably less affluent than those with more liberals.

• Conservative political affiliation is highly negatively correlated with state income levels and even more so with average hourly earnings.

I don’t know about you, but I find these datapoints amazing. Can anyone explain the thought process under this? It is not what I was expecting . . .

Why America Keeps Getting More Conservative

Richard Florida
Reuters, Feb 13, 2012

This post originally appeared at The Big Picture and is posted with permission.

11 Responses to "Is America Becoming More Conservative? Why?"

  1. Len Behr   February 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    People with less education and less experience outside their local communities are less likely to be professionals or to make much money. They tend to be less aware of alternative perspectives to those expoused by friends, local churches and people who appear to share their attitudes. They have little aptitude for or interest in searching out facts and ideas that are not conveniently provided by church and friends.
    Thus they are subject to being manipulated by people who exploit these limitations, such as local politicians, talk radio rabble rousers (both religious and polictical) and Fox News.

    Without the ability to search for other points of view, their gut-reactions are formed by these sources, and they are easily exploited by politicians and media opinion-makers. Over the last twelve to twenty years, they have been programmed to favor policies that are against their own interests and those of the country as a whole, and they have no capacity to understand why this is true. It will not be easy to correct this problem until the public education system is improved.

    • BraGrif   February 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      Until the public education system is improved? You mean a system that is dominated by liberal policies that mandates teaching to the lowest common denominator in the name of fairness. Its probably a good thing for you that critical thought isn't taught in school or a Democrat would never get elected.
      The system got in the shape its in today due to the inability to weed out the poor performing teachers due to union policies of tenure so you are blaming a system that operates under the model that you created…way to think that one through!

  2. mphipp   February 18, 2012 at 5:10 am

    You hit the nail on the head- no intellectual effort-no reward in understanding the complexities of today's world. The biggest problem is how easily these less well read individuals can be persuaded. Most people do not even have a framework for the arguments, they either do not care to put in the effort or lack the basic skills necessary for accumulation of the facts.

    • gzuckier   February 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      Indeed. As the prime example, witness the "I once read a blog article reposted from the WSJ op-ed page and therefore I am qualified to state that the IPCC did not include variation in the sun's output as a possible cause for global warming" type of argument. Apparently, "doing your homework" by checking things you are told is actually less popular than doing your real homework in high school. Especially if what you are being told is what you want to believe, why rock the boat and see if it's a lie?

  3. sierra7   February 19, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Both good comments: No reason to "think" or evaluate what is being cast on them in terms of government prop or major media distortion……Everything to them is either "black or white" and no "in-between" gray areas…….easy to live that way…..

  4. Michael   February 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    A ridiculous general conclusion based on an extremely limited amount of data, and with a linear line drawn. (Implying one cause effect conclusion on a population with multiple effecting factors) Did they discount (exclude) outliers that didn't conform to that opinion? They survey is so flawed, it's not worth the effort to draw accurate conclusions.

  5. Robert Patrick Coutinho   February 21, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I have been noticing this trend (the conservative demographics and economic prospects) for quite some time. One could also look at where unions are often demonized and find the same correlation as the conservative, less educated, and lower hourly wage groups (have not seen the data, but would be willing to bet). My wife had a professor in college (in MA) who was shocked to learn that most of his pupils were from PUBLIC not private schools. That simply did not occur in his native homeland (the South).

    I suspect (although do not know) that the same dynamic occurring has been repeated over and over (most notable during the Great Depression, when families accepted foreclosure of their farms rather than bankruptcy–the latter option would have left them much better off).

  6. BraGrif   February 22, 2012 at 11:14 am

    BThe comments above are dynamite for humor and shows just how vapid liberals are. First they are liberal, in theory, because they want to make the world a better place by helping the working class and poor but deride the same group when they think like them….priceless! Psst, you're liberal because you're elitist and selfish.
    I could trot out plenty of studies that show conservatives being much, much more informed and up to date on current events then liberals but that would be dismissed just as I'm dismissing the finding of this little study. The country is trending more conservative because most of them see through the illusion of liberalism and the ultimate destruction that it brings. Its played out over and over again through history and is currently playing out around the globe. You guys keep patting yourselfs on the back for how smart you are and we'll save the country.
    Just an FYI, I am probably more educated and higher income than anyone that posted already so that blows your theory and I happen to work in an industry that focuses on entrepreneurs that are extremely successful and all of the ones I work with are ultra conservative….hmm.

  7. Henry Williams   February 22, 2012 at 11:45 am

    The "average Joe" has once again realized that less government is not only better government, but equals more individulal freedoms including the ability to pursue one's dreams, keep one's wallet intact, and worship God unhindered.
    By the way, I've worked as a finance consultant to the retail auto industry for over 20 years, living in cities large and small over 40 states for periods ranging from one week to three months. I've arranged loans from $3,000 to over $75,000 and in the applicant interview process, gotten a pretty good handle on how the average American thinks. The three highest trust-building topics are family, religion, and politics in no particular order. – Hank

  8. Jim   February 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I don't know Barry, the average Joe used to watch Walter Cronkite. Now he watches Fox news. There appears to be a de-intellectualization of America over the past couple of decades, and that has worked out well for the conservative cause. It does cause problems however for guys like Romney, who are welded to the elite. Pat Buchanan was a bit early, in my opinion, at some point somebody of his ilk will figure out how to meld this essentially populist constituency into a political force to be reckoned with.

  9. Cricket   February 27, 2012 at 7:21 am

    I think there are two kinds of conservatives…financial/fiscal conservatives and social conservatives. Those fiscally bent, use social issues to move religious, and/or low wage earners, and/or less educated people to their side. Perhaps if we were to eliminate the social issues from the debate, we may be able to achieve more agreement on the fiscal side.