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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Decline of Conservatism

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.  

Lydia Saad at Gallup:
In January and February, an average of 40% of Americans identified as politically conservative. This was up from an average of 37% in 2019 and was tied for the highest rate of conservatism Gallup had recorded in the past six years. This coincided with President Donald Trump being acquitted of impeachment charges. It also came amidst strongly positive economic signals in the form of near-record-low unemployment and the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching record highs.

Nevertheless, the percentage of Americans identifying as conservative reverted to an average 37% in March and April as the coronavirus pandemic emerged. It fell further to 34% in May and June as the pandemic has worn on, Trump's job approval rating has tumbled, and the racial justice movement emerged as a national focus following the death of George Floyd.

Meanwhile, the percentages identifying as liberal increased from an average of 22% in January/February to 26% in May/June.
...

As the United States has been transformed in 2020 from an economically prosperous country to one crippled by high unemployment and a sharp drop in GDP, Americans' perspective on politics has shifted. Part of this may stem from the economic challenges created by COVID-19, compelling large majorities of Republicans and Democrats alike
to support the $2.2 trillion economic relief package passed by Congress in March.
The downward trajectory of President Trump's job approval rating, from a term high of 49% in February to 38% in June, is likely contributing to Americans' swing to the left. When Trump was prevailing over a strong economy and fighting off impeachment, conservative ideals may have had more appeal than today when his approval has fallen below 40% and his administration is struggling to contain the coronavirus.