WASHINGTON (TND) — A new poll shows an historic number of Americans consider themselves socially conservative.
According to research from Gallup, 38% of Americans say they are conservative on social issues.
This is up from 33% last year and 30% in 2021, when a series of progressive social justice movements – which all gained significant momentum during Donald Trump's presidency – were at their peak.
Now, 29% of Americans say they are socially liberal.
Jeff Jones, a senior editor for Gallup, said there could be a few reasons for the shift.
"The main factor is just more Republicans are saying they're socially conservative," said Jones.
The study notes this shift happening at a time when controversial topics like transgender rights and abortion are big on the national stage.
Jones said other factors include dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden and more people identifying as Republican play a role too.
Back in 2021, 60% of Republicans said they were socially conservative compared to 74% today. Independents were at 24% in 2021 and jumped to 29% in 2023. Democrats have stayed at 10% in both 2021 and 2023.
"It has been sort of a response to a pendulum swinging so far left, " said Sarah Parshall Perry, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
The poll says one thing, but Perry suggests some people might be afraid to publicly admit their views.
"It is you believe it and will adhere to it, or you are painted as some kind of a transphobe and someone who's discriminatory in nature," she explained. "It runs counter to what we know about the freedom of speech and the freedom of belief, both of which are recognized to be primary interest in this nation."
According to Tevi Troy, former deputy secretary of Health and Human Services for the George W. Bush Administration and the head of the Presidential Leadership Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center, another reason for the shift could be the change in what social conservatism means.
"If you look back 30 years ago, social conservative pretty much just meant that you were pro-life. Now, it could mean so many things, and there's a lot of variation. Does it mean that you're against mandated transgender surgeries," he said. "When it has this many different characteristics, it could potentially attract more people to it. It's no longer a proxy just for the question of pro-life."
"This poll might suggest that you'll see more conservative candidates elected in the years ahead, which could lead to conservative legislation and conservative policy outcome," Troy said.
"Greater social conservatism may be fostering an environment more favorable to passing conservative-leaning social legislation, especially in Republican-dominated states. Indeed, in the past year, many Republican states have passed stricter constraints on abortions, limited choices for transgender youth in sports participation and healthcare, and placed prohibitions on what topics can be discussed in classroom settings," Jones wrote.
The data also shows 44% of Americans say they are economically conservative, which is also the highest percentage since 2012.