The percentage of American who say they are socially liberal is equal to the percentage who identify as socially conservative for the first time since Gallup began asking Americans to describe their social views in 1999.
According to a Gallup poll released Friday, 31 percent of Americans self-describe as socially conservative and 31 percent self-describe as socially liberal. The results have the percentage of Americans who identify as social conservatives at its lowest level in a decade and a half. The 31 percent for social liberal identifiers is the highest in that same time frame.
Last year 34 percent identified as social conservatives compared to 30 percent who identified as social liberals.
Gallup reports that the data is reflective of the larger trend toward more social liberalism that has, for the most part, held true since 1999 (39 percent social conservatives/21 percent social liberals)— save for the first two years of the Obama presidency when the poll saw a disruption in the pattern with the number of social conservatives dwarfing social liberal (42 percent to 25 percent in 2009 and 39 percent to 22 percent in 2010).
According to the polling firm, the survey found the highest number of Democrats to date, identifying as social liberals (53 percent) while the lowest percentage of Republicans the poll has seen said they were social conservatives (also 53 percent). The poll notes that the decrease in Republicans identifying as social conservatives has occurred as more are identifying as social moderates.
While liberals are catching up on the social issues, on the economy they are still losing with 39 percent identifying as economically conservative compared to 19 percent that say they are economically liberal. While they are still ahead, economic conservatives have been losing ground and the 39 percent represents the lowest level since 1999.
Gallup notes that given the trends the 2016 elections will be determined by a more socially liberal and a less economically conservative electorate than in the last decade and a half — the poll cautions however that economic conservatives still dwarf economic liberals 2-1.
The survey of 1,024 random adults was conducted from May 6-10, 2015 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.