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Gallup finds Minnesota not as ‘liberal’ as its reputation

Based on residents’ description of themselves as liberal or conservative, Minnesota is middling.

Gallup ranked the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) according a poll in which residents were asked to describe themselves as “liberal,” “moderate” or “conservative.”

Wyoming won the “conservative” honors, with 51.4 percent calling themselves “conservative,” 34.6 percent “moderate and just 10.9 percent “liberal.” For its ultimate ranking, Gallup ignores the moderates and subtracts the liberals from the conservatives. So Wyoming led all states with a “conservative advantage” of 40.5 percentage points. The rest of the “most conservative” top 10 list went Mississippi, Idaho, Utah, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, North Dakota and South Carolina.

The most liberal place was D.C., and by a huge margin, with a liberal advantage of  16.5 percentage points. Among actual states, Vermont was most “liberal” with 5.6 percent more self-identified liberals than conservatives, followed by Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, California, Maine and Oregon.

You’ll note that Minnesota, despite its national reputation as something of a liberal bastion, didn’t make either top 10 list. We came in tied (with Michigan and New Mexico) for 20th most liberal with a conservative advantage of 12.9 percentages points.

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The breakdown for Minnesota was 36.2 percent self-identified conservatives, 37.6 moderates and just 23.3 percent liberals.

In all, only three states had more self-identified liberals than conservatives. It would be impossible to reconcile most of these figures with what we know about voting behavior. Obviously, the word “liberal” is somewhat toxic; that a great many people who vote for Democrats prefer to consider themselves “moderates;” and that Democratic candidates get the votes of the most of the self-identified “moderates.”

Nationally, the ideological self-identifications broke down this way:

  • Conservative: 38 percent
  • Moderate: 34 percent
  • Liberal: 23 percent

In fact, that breakdown represents the highest showing for “liberal” since Gallup started taking this annual survey in 1992.

Gallup’s writeup of the state-by-state results is here. The 20-year lookback at the national numbers is here.