In the 1980’s, voters had such negative views of political liberals that candidates vehemently denied that the “L” word applied to them. Today, voters still see liberal in somewhat more negative terms than conservative, but the gap is relatively modest.
Thirty-nine percent (39%) of all voters have a favorable opinion of political liberals while 41% have a negative view for a net rating of -2. Forty-four percent (44%) have a positive view of conservatives while 33% say the opposite for a net rating of +11.
However, among women, the perception gap virtually disappears. Female voters give liberals a net rating of +2 (37% favorable, 35% unfavorable) and conservatives a net rating of +1 (35%/34%). It’s worth noting that more than a quarter of women voice no opinion on either conservatives or liberals see crosstab results). Roughly another third had only soft perceptions of the terms.
Diving a bit deeper into the data revealed the rural women have virtually identical views of conservatives and liberals. On a net basis, suburban women have a net 7 point preference for conservatives over liberals and urban women have a net 11 point preference for liberals over conservatives.
The gender gap on perceptions of conservatives is smallest in the suburbs and largest in rural areas. On perceptions of liberals, the gap is largest in rural areas but also smallest in the suburbs.
This data was collected as part of a larger survey exploring perceptions of a dozen groups and terms. Small business owners, environmentalists, and church-goers earned the most favorable ratings.
Data from a separate survey of 5,044 Registered Voters found that 26% of women identify themselves as liberal and 28% say conservative. Forty-six percent (46%) identify themselves as moderate.
The national survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted November 8-9, 2018 by ScottRasmussen.com and HarrisX, a polling company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology). It has a 3.1 percentage point Margin of Error with a 95% level of confidence.
These findings should be viewed as preliminary since our sample sizes were relatively small (249 Suburban women, 150 Urban women, and 121 Rural women. Over the coming months, we will conduct additional research to gain a better understanding of the perceptions and power of terms like liberal and conservative.
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