Poll: Liberal ideology gaining ground on social issues

The gap between those who hold conservative and liberal views on social issues has narrowed to its lowest level since Gallup began testing the question. 

A new survey released Wednesday found 34 percent of people identify as conservative on social issues, while 30 percent identify as liberals. Another 35 percent of people identify as moderate. 

The gap shrunk by a single point since last year, but has narrowed by 13 points since 2009, when President Obama was sworn into office. Gallup noted the trend is in line with greater support among the public for gay marriage, marijuana legalization and opposition to the death penalty. 

Gallup found Democrats are driving the narrowing divide. 

"In recent years, Republicans' views on social issues have been steady, while Democrats have been increasingly likely to identify their social views as liberal, particularly in the past four years," Gallup wrote in an analysis accompanying the poll. 

Conservatives still hold a 21-point lead on liberals regarding economic issues. Forty-two percent describe themselves as conservative on economic issues, while 21 percent call themselves liberal. Thirty-four percent call themselves moderate. 

While high, the gap has narrowed by 15 points since 2010. 

Gallup found the divide among liberals and conservatives had been slightly shrinking since it began testing the question in 2001, but it spiked when Obama took office "most likely in reaction to their perceptions of the more liberal administration. Since then, however, the trends have continued moving in a less conservative direction," Gallup wrote. 

Republicans are still much more likely to identify as conservative than Democrats are to identify as liberal. 

Seventy percent of Republicans call themselves conservative on economic issues, while 60 percent identify as conservative on social issues. 

On the Democratic side, 35 percent identify as liberal on economic issues while 47 percent identify as liberal on social issues. 

Forty percent of Democrats call themselves moderates on social issues, while 43 percent of Democrats call themselves moderate on economic issues. 

The poll surveyed 1,028 people May 8–11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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