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News Link • Philosophy: Conservatism

In polarized era, fewer Americans hold a mix of conservative and liberal views

• Pew Research

In political values ranging from views of government and the social safety net to opinions about immigrants, race and homosexuality, Americans are less likely than in the past to hold a mix of conservative and liberal views. At the same time, ideological consistency – the shares of Americans holding liberal or conservative views across a wider range of issues – is increasingly associated with partisanship, a recent Pew Research Center studyshows. This reflects a continuation of trends documented in the Center's 2014 study of political polarization in the American public.

Overall, 32% of Americans now take a roughly equal number of conservative and liberal positions on a scale based on 10 questions asked together in seven surveys since 1994. As recently as 2015, 38% had this mix of values – and 49% did so in 1994 and 2004.

Reflecting growing partisan gaps across most of the individual questions in the scale – even those where both parties have shifted in the same direction – Republicans and Democrats are now further apart ideologically than at any point in more than two decades.

Political Polarization, 1994-2017

The interactive chart below illustrates the shift in the American public's political values over the past two decades, using a scale of 10 questions asked together on seven Pew Research Center surveys since 1994. The share of Americans with ideologically consistent values has increased over this time and these political values also have become more strongly associated with partisanship. These shifts are particularly pronounced among politically engaged Americans. Use the controls below to see more detail about ideological consistency in the American public since 1994. For more information, read the full report.

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