PRINCETON, NJ — Mississippi is home to the largest percentage of conservatives among U.S. states, with a slim majority identifying their political views as conservative. Several other states, including Idaho, Alabama, Wyoming, and Utah approach 50% conservative identification. Vermont, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia have the greatest percentages of self-identified liberals.
Mississippi is the first state to exceed 50% conservative identifiers in the three years Gallup has compiled ideological identification at the state level.
The top 10 rankings make clear that conservative identification is much more common than liberal identification, with each of the top 10 conservative states at or above 45% identification and only the District of Columbia exceeding 31% liberal identification. In the nation as a whole, Americans are about twice as likely to identify as conservative as they are to identify as liberal, a pattern that has persisted for many years. Americans are also more likely to say they are conservative than moderate.
Not surprisingly, then, conservatives outnumber liberals in every U.S. state. Only in the District of Columbia do liberal identifiers exceed conservative identifiers (41% to 18%). Vermont (30.7% conservative to 30.5% liberal), Rhode Island (29.9% to 29.3%), and Massachusetts (29.9% to 28.0%) have the closest state-level division between conservatives and liberals. (The full data on ideology by state can be found on page 2 of this report.)
The most conservative states are typically in the South and West. The least conservative states are in the Eastern part of the country and on the West Coast.
Generally speaking, ideological self-identification tends to be stable over time. As a result, the most and least conservative states have not changed much in recent years. Of the top 10 conservative states in 2010, 8 have been in the top 10 in all three years Gallup has compiled these data at the state level. Of the top 10 liberal states in 2010, 7 have been in the top 10 in all three years.
On average, states saw a one-percentage-point change in their conservative or liberal identification between 2008 and 2010. In contrast, over the same period, party affiliation (as measured by the percentage identifying or leaning Republican) shifted by an average of three points per state, resulting in significant shifts in the competitive positioning of the parties in many states.
The conservative political label continues to prevail by a significant margin in most of the U.S. states. Additionally, ideological identification has been largely stable in recent years even though there has been greater change in party affiliation at the state level. The 2010 elections brought more politicians who are conservative into office at the state level, and some of the results are evident in the approaches state governments are taking to deal with their biggest challenges, such as attempts to cut pay or benefits of unionized state workers to address revenue shortfalls and budget deficits.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2010, with a random sample of 182,538 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.
The margins of error are no greater than ±6 percentage points for any state, and are ±3 points or less for most states. The margin of error for the District of Columbia is ±7 percentage points.
The questions reported here were asked of a random half-sample of respondents on the Gallup Daily tracking survey.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 200 cell phone respondents and 800 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup’s polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.
The Nationwide Effort To Restrict/Abolish Reproductive Rights
As has been noted here and elsewhere, 2011 has seen a nationwide resurgence in the effort to curtail women’s reproductive rights. I know! It’s almost as if an entire political faction that preaches the importance of a small and unintrusive government doesn’t actually mean it, right? Here in Washington, D.C., we’ve seen the House of Representatives pass an amendment that would defund Planned Parenthood and attempt to create a whole new crazy definition of rape. And state governments have been doing much the same: South Dakota lawmakers briefly floated the idea of making protecting the unborn a justifiable reason to commit homicide — with language that didn’t make it clear that abortion providers who perform legal medical procedures wouldn’t be, in some way, protected from the crazy people who believe they are morally allowed to murder them. That law’s been shelved in South Dakota, but it’s being emulated elsewhere.
And others are going further, including a Georgia lawmaker who’s crafted a law that would make miscarriages a felony. Again, there’s vague wording there, that seemingly exempts miscarriages that are not brought about by “human involvement.” Unfortunately, medical professionals do not know, with precision, what causes miscarriages, and the law doesn’t set sufficient parameters. But that’s all beside the point: why bring miscarriages into the matter at all? No one has ever suggested that miscarriages of any sort by subject to criminal penalty, so why start now? The answer is that this is all some “moving the Overton Window” nonsense — by pushing boundaries further past the fringe, it makes the original fringe position more palatable. I’ve said this once before, but it bears repeating:
Just to review, the way this game is played is that a legislator will conceive of an absolutely insane anti-woman law, stoke outrage, then make a big show of relenting on the crazy part of the law in order to get what they want — making abortion illegal — enacted. They will then aver that this is the result of “negotiations” in which “all sides” have been “heard out” resulting in a “compromise.”
Here, for your benefit, we’ve collected many examples of the ways in which reproductive rights are being encroached upon. Some are more reasonable sounding than others. There’s a wide gulf between a radical redefinition of rape and a law that aims to shut down abortion providers in the name of enhanced patient comfort. But one thing that all of these laws have in common is that they suggest a deep and abiding belief that women are chattel.
IOWA Bill Allows the “Justifiable Use Of Deadly Force” To Protect The Unborn
Bill Premise: Two bills have been combined into one to essentially define an unborn fetus as a person. In protecting that person, the Iowa legislature wants to allow the use of deadly force against abortion doctors or family-planning practitioners. The far-reaching consequence is that if this bill passes, persons that harm or kill abortion providers would be protected under state law from persecution.
From the Iowa Independent
Also included in the proposal is a new section to the Iowa Code that would provide automatic criminal and civil immunity to a person who uses deadly force, unless a police investigation proves that the person was not acting “reasonably.” Also key to the immunity clause is the fact that law enforcement would likely be barred from arresting a person at the scene of an incident “unless the law enforcement agency determines there is probable cause that the force was unlawful under this chapter.” If law enforcement does make an arrest, and if that person is later found to have used reasonable force by a court of law, taxpayers could be on the hook for the reimbursement of the person’s attorney fees, court costs, compensation from loss of income and other expenses.
“Does this provide someone who is a person with an anti-abortion stance at least an opportunity that is more likely to get to a jury? I think the answer is yes,” [associate professor of law at the University of Kansas Melanie D.] Wilson said.
Bill’s Status: Currently under debate
NEBRASKA Bill Revives “Justifiable Homicide”
Bill’s Premise: In an effort to expand a bill that started in South Dakota, Nebraska’s bill uses justifiable homicide as a means to curb abortions. In the event that a woman wants to protect her unborn fetus, the bill expands to third parties in addition to the pregnant woman, her husband, parents, and children to protect under the law the use of force against abortion doctors or others that endanger the fetus.
per Mother Jones
The legislation, LB 232, was introduced by state Sen. Mark Christensen, a devout Christian and die-hard abortion foe who is opposed to the prodedure even in the case of rape. Unlike its South Dakota counterpart, which would have allowed only a pregnant woman, her husband, her parents, or her children to commit “justifiable homicide” in defense of her fetus, the Nebraska bill would apply to any third party.
“In short, this bill authorizes and protects vigilantes, and that’s something that’s unprecedented in our society,” Melissa Grant of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland told the Nebraska legislature’s judiciary committee on Wednesday. Specifically, she warned, it could be used to target Planned Parenthood’s patients and personnel. Also testifying in oppostion to the bill was David Baker, the deputy chief executive officer of the Omaha police department, who said, “We share the same fears…that this could be used to incite violence against abortion providers.”
Bill’s Status: Currently in the state legislature open for debate.
Georgia Moves To Criminalize Miscarriages
Bill’s Premise: A Georgia lawmaker wants to make abortion illegal in the state, but doesn’t simply stop there. The way the bill is worded effectively criminalizes miscarriages, and the death penalty looms as a punishment. Mother Jones’ Jen Phillips calls this measure “the apex…of woman-hating craziness.”
The bill…shows an astonishing lack of concern for women’s health and well-being. Under Rep. Franklin’s bill, HB 1, women who miscarry could become felons if they cannot prove that there was “no human involvement whatsoever in the causation” of their miscarriage. There is no clarification of what “human involvement” means, and this is hugely problematic as medical doctors do not know exactly what causes miscarriages. Miscarriages are estimated to terminate up to a quarter of all pregnancies and the Mayo Clinic says that “the actual number is probably much higher because many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn’t even know she’s pregnant. Most miscarriages occur because the fetus isn’t developing normally.”
Bill’s Status: Open for debate in the legislature
South Dakota’a Pioneering Foray Into “Justifiable Homicide”
Bill’s Premise: South Dakota has the bill that Nebraska emulated regarding this issue. It altered “the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child.” That meant that is theoretically would have allowed “a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one.”
Katie Sheppard Reports
“The bill in South Dakota is an invitation to murder abortion providers,” says Vicki Saporta, the president of the National Abortion Federation, the professional association of abortion providers. Since 1993, eight doctors have been assassinated at the hands of anti-abortion extremists, and another 17 have been the victims of murder attempts. Some of the perpetrators of those crimes have tried to use the justifiable homicide defense at their trials. “This is not an abstract bill,” Saporta says. The measure could have major implications if a “misguided extremist invokes this ‘self-defense’ statute to justify the murder of a doctor, nurse or volunteer,” the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families warned in a message to supporters last week.
Bill’s Status: Shelved
Pennsylvania Wants To Regulate Clinics
Bill’s Premise: A bill showed up in the Pennsylvania state house that would change the classification of abortion clinics. The bill’s sponsors want “the state to apply the same regulatory standards to abortion clinics that are applied to other freestanding surgical facilities.” This, in turn, would lead to the shuttering of many facilities that perform legal abortions. Restricting the ability of women to have these procedures is the intent of the bill; no one is sincerely concerned about enhancing the safety of these patients.
Bill’s Status: Passed the State House, on Senate Floor
Virginia Cracks Down On Clinics
Bill’s Premise: The Virginia Senate approved a measure similar to Pennsylvania’s proposed bill, to reclassify abortion clinics. They want them to “meet the same regulatory and architectural requirements as outpatient surgical centers.” As with Pennsylvania, the intent here isn’t to enhance or improve patient comfort — it’s to shut down clinics. The implications for Virginians is that this law could close “17 of the state’s 21 outpatient clinics.”
As one of the bills supporters said: “This is about protecting women’s health, and you can look at me like that if you want.” The reason anyone was looking at him “like that,” is that people have a way of looking at people who are disingenuous liars.
Bill’s Status: Passed.
House Passes Planned Parenthood Defund
Bill Premise: House Republicans proposed an amendment to H.R. 1, a complete de-funding of Planned Parenthood. The point was to prevent taxpayer money from going to Planned Parenthood that would have been used to fund abortions.
Elise Foley Reported:
The vote, which passed, 240 to 185, came after an emotional, late-night speech by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who revealed on the House floor that she had had an abortion. Speier criticized Republicans for vilifying Planned Parenthood and abortion-rights supporters.
“There is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood, and it was played out in this room tonight,” she said on the House floor. “Planned Parenthood has a right to operate. Planned Parenthood has a right to provide family planning services. Planned parenthood has a right to perform abortions. Last time you checked, abortions were legal in this country.”
Bill’s Status: Passed the House, likely to be a non-starter in the Senate.
GOP Tries To Redefine Rape
Bill’s Premise: H.R. 3, also known as the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” was an attempt to…well, prevent taxpayer money from going to fund abortions. This is something already enforced by the Hyde Amendment, but anti-abortion forces in Congress prefer to pretend this isn’t the case, so that the specter of abortions being funded by Federal dollars can be raised time and again (see also: The Stupak Amendment). What made the language of this bill particularly mental was the way it redefined rape, making abortions only allowable in the case of “forcible rape.”
That meant that if you were coerced, drugged or otherwise incapacitated by a rapist, too bad for you. Bizarrely, it also excluded statutory rape, and incest, unless the incest survivor was a minor.
per Nick Baumann
For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith’s spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)
Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old’s parents wouldn’t be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn’t be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.
And what is “forcible rape?” As it turns out, “The term ‘forcible rape’ actually has no set meaning; legal definitions of “force” vary widely. And every survivor who finds herself in need of abortion funding will have to submit her rape for government approval.”
Bill’s status: After an intense outcry, lawmakers backed off of redefining rape.
Per Jillian Rayfield on TPM, the measure would require women to first meet with a doctor, then consult with a “pregnancy help center” (where she’d be pressured to not have an abortion), then wait 72 hours after this second consultation before having the procedure. The bill is designed to make it as onerous as possible on women seeking these procedures; it falls especially heavy on the poor, who would have to take additional time off work, and make extra long-distance trips in a state where 98% of the counties have no abortion provider at all.
Shame, Shame, Shame On You Lila Rose and Live Action
WASHINGTON — The House Republican move to strip federal funds from the nation’s most well-known reproductive health care provider (1) as part of its budget last week was the culmination of a multi-year effort that involved parallel action by top Republicans and conservative media operatives playing up the work of a California college student who has been creating surreptitious videos of Planned Parenthood employees for years.
The student, Lila Rose, is the president of an organization called Live Action that pays actors to walk into Planned Parenthood offices with hidden cameras, much as James O’Keefe did to undermine (2) the community-organizing group ACORN. The Live Action stars pretend to be a pimp and a prostitute engaged in human trafficking and looking for birth control, STD testing and abortions. The videos that the organization puts out can be convincing and disturbing — and in at least two cases were found by Planned Parenthood to be legitimate cause for dismissals — but thorough, frame-by-frame (3) reviews (4) of the full-length (5) videos show that what is posted on YouTube often bears little relation to what happened in reality, due to heavy editing that alters the meaning of conversations.
Last Friday, the day the House moved to defund Planned Parenthood, Glenn Beck devoted the entirety of his hourlong Fox News show to the organization and brought Rose into the studio to narrate some of her videos — clips that were spliced to create conversations that never happened. Along with Fox News, the conservative blog Big Government, which played a leading role in promoting the ACORN videos, has been pushing Rose’s productions. In a column written for Big Government less than a week before the funding vote, Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican, laid out the case against Planned Parenthood.
“Taxpayers deserve accountability, and recent undercover videos taken at Planned Parenthood centers demonstrate the egregious abuse of taxpayer funds. These videos show that Planned Parenthood is willing to use public funds to commit a federal crime,” wrote Stearns, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. “Thanks to Live Action, a group of young people dedicated to strengthening the culture of life, we learn from undercover videos that Planned Parenthood is all too willing to ignore the law in promoting its services, among them abortion.” (Planned Parenthood does not use federal money to pay for abortions, which make up a sliver of its operations; its opponents argue that money is fungible and that any tax dollars going to the organization indirectly subsidize abortions.)
The assault on Planned Parenthood is one part of the movement against abortion rights. House Republicans proposed banning federal funds that cover abortion in cases of rape if the attack was not “forcible,” but backed down after a public outcry. In South Dakota, the GOP was pushing legislation that would appear to make it legal to murder an abortion provider; a Georgia law would make miscarriages illegal under certain circumstances; Iowa lawmakers would allow deadly force to protect a fetus; Nebraska, Virginia, Kansas and Pennsylvania lawmakers are all pushing similarly extreme legislation.
Defenders of abortion rights intend to make their stand in the Senate, where abortion rights have always had more allies than in the House. “We’ve already been talking to our allies in the Senate, both in the Republican party and the Democratic, and we’re very hopeful that this horrible bill doesn’t become law,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told HuffPost last Friday after the House vote.
Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, a national Republican leader, cited Rose’s videos as justification for an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood on Feb. 2, a day after she released new footage. “The recent release of an undercover video exposing duplicity and potential criminality by an employee of Planned Parenthood is an outrage. Every American should be shocked that an employee of the largest recipient of federal funds under Title X has been recorded aiding and abetting underage sex trafficking,” Pence said. “The time to deny any and all funding to Planned Parenthood is now. In the wake of yet another scandal involving Planned Parenthood, I urge Congress to move the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act to the floor for immediate consideration.”
While the late ACORN and Planned Parenthood provide different services to the populations they serve, there is value to the conservative movement in eliminating both, because both offer a genuine, tangible service while also engaging directly in the political process. When people see firsthand what affordable health care or affordable housing mean in practice, they’re more likely to support it in principle at the ballot box.
“I’m just telling you, I don’t think they have any idea how far they have overreached,” Richards said last week. “I think what you saw with Congresswoman [Jackie] Speier (6) last night is very personal evidence of just how far these folks have overreached. And I think the women of America are expressing that, and will express it. This is not an academic, intellectual issue for them.”
The same network and the same tactics are being put to use against Planned Parenthood that worked so effectively against ACORN, but the prospect for success is smaller for a variety of reasons. Perhaps most importantly, one in five women have visited a Planned Parenthood center at some point to receive health services, dwarfing ACORN’s reach into the general population.