Our friend Ivan Moore over at Alaska Survey Research posted this article today. It says Alaskans are describing themselves less as conservatives and more as moderates and progressives.
Agree or disagree with Ivan’s conclusions, it makes for interesting reading:
ALASKANS CONSIDER THEMSELVES LESS CONSERVATIVE, MORE MODERATE/PROGRESSIVE
Six year track of ideology shows profound change
Anchorage, AK — The question is simple: “Politically, do you consider yourself to be conservative, moderate or progressive?”. The results, collected over the last six years, show a significant decline in the number of conservatives, or at least in the number of people who consider themselves conservative, with a commensurate uptick in moderates and progressives.
The Alaska Survey is a 750 sample project, conducted statewide on a quarterly basis, fielded on both landlines and cellphones with Alaska adults aged 18+. The data track begins in March 2010 and finishes in December 2015. There are four points for each year, one measure for each quarter. The Alaska Survey has an absolutely consistent methodology from one survey to the next that has remained essentially unchanged since the beginning, something that lends considerable credibility to tracks like this. Data each quarter is weighted to produce a sample which is consistently representative of Alaska adults by gender, age and ethnicity, and also by that curious 21st century demographic variable “phone status”… ensuring that our sample has an appropriate number of cell-only respondents.
If we look at the best fit lines, the percent of self-identified conservatives began in 2010 at 44%. The first six points of the sequence were all above 40%. The best fit line ends six years later 10 points lower, at 34%. Over the same time period, moderates increased six points, from 40% to 46%, while progressives increased four points, from 16% to 20%. There is very little doubt that this trend is real and significant.
There would appear to be three possible categories of explanation as to what might be causing this shift:
1) The population is changing, both generationally and through migration to and from Alaska
2) People are actually changing their political attitudes, or having their attitudes changed by external forces, and
3) People are shifting not so much in their attitudes themselves than in their definition of the labels. Perhaps the label “conservative” has lost some of its appeal?
We can only speculate as to how these three causal effects might combine and contribute to this change in self-identified ideology, but as ever, we’re tempted to think it’s a little bit of all three.
Certainly there have been some significant events the last six years that may have contributed:
1) Joe Miller’s US Senate primary victory over Lisa Murkowski in 2010 coincides with the 3rd point on the graph, at the height
of conservative popularity.
2) The 4th and 5th points represent the aftermath of Murkowski’s historic write-in victory that galvanized the political center in Alaska. This is the point when the conservative percent
starts to fall.
3) The 7th measure of 39% conservative was also the first
month we measured Sarah Palin’s negative rating at greater
than 60%, increased significantly from previous quarters.
4) The volatility in the conservative and moderate % in
September 2012 and the new low of 36% conservative
in December 2012 occurred during and after Obama’s
reelection win over Mitt Romney.
5) The 22% high point for progressive came immediately after
this, in March 2013.
6) The decline in the conservative percent, from 36% in March
2014 to 31% in March 2015 coincided with the decline of
Parnell, the National Guard scandal and the rise, and
subsequent victory, of Bill Walker and Byron Mallott.
7) The mini-recovery of conservative numbers in 2015 is
possibly related to the rise of Trump nationally.
This is all hypothesis and conjecture, but it is worthwhile to consider notable political events in seeking to explain what we’re seeing.
What is interesting is that we do not see a parallel shift in party affiliation, at least not in the direction we’d expect. In the exact same time frame, the percent of voters in Alaska registered as Democrats has declined from 15.5% in March 2015 to less than 14% now. But the percentage of voters not registered to a party (N or U) has risen two points in that time.
(Source — Division of Election statistics)