As the 2016 race for president begins, the Gallup polling agency has found that the Democrat Party of 2015 is much farther to the left than that of the year 2008.
Gallup found, for instance, that a high of 47 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents now proudly claim the label of “liberal.” This compares to only 39 percent in 2008 and 30 percent in 2001.
For many years, those willing to claim they were liberal was in steep decline, as for many, “liberal” had become a dirty word. But that trend has has reversed sharply since Obama became president.
Notably, Democrats have become more liberal on social issues. Social liberalism has jumped by an 18-point margin since 2001. Gay marriage may account for this increase, but Gallup didn’t break down the specific issues.
Those who claim they are liberal on economic issues, though, grew at a slower rate, with nine percent accepting the label on matters of the budget and spending.
Gallup has also found that the number of respondents that identify as socially liberal has come to parity with those who claim to be socially conservative for the first time since the poll has been taken. Both categories stand at 31 percent each.
All of this may come as no surprise when listening to the 2016 Democrat candidates who are adopting rhetoric that skews much farther to the left than past presidential cycles. It is also seen in the fact Bernie Sanders—a self-avowed socialist no less—seems to be a contender in the Democrat race.
The last serious socialist candidate for president in the USA was Eugene Debbs who got nearly a million votes in 1920 at a time when socialism was a growing ideology across the globe.
Gallup cautions Democrats, though, that while liberalism is up in their party, independents are less interested in accepting the far left label.
“While 47% of their party base is socially liberal and either moderate or liberal on the economy,” Gallup warns, “that same percentage among Republicans and Republican independents is only 7%, and some votes from the GOP will be necessary to win in November 2016.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at email@example.com.