The L-word is quietly working its way back into the political lexicon.
The number of voters identifying themselves as “liberal” jumped three points on Election Day, from 22 percent in 2008 to 25 percent this year. That’s the highest that number has been since at least 1976, according to exit polls.
The term “liberal” has long been somewhat of a pejorative in American politics — or at least been less popular than the alternative.
When Ronald Reagan was reelected in 1984, just 17 percent of Americans identified as “liberal.” And even back when the founder of the New Deal, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, took 61 percent of the vote in 1936, it was more popular to be a “conservative” than a “liberal,” as Wonkblog’s Ezra Klein pointed out.
That may be changing, though. While the “conservative” label has stayed about where it is, self-described liberals have increased from 17 percent of the electorate in 1980 to 21 percent in 1992 and now 25 percent today.
And the three-point jump between 2008 and 2012 is tied for the biggest jump in the last three-plus decades.
Here’s how that looks on a graph:
Now, this shouldn’t be over-sold. We’ve still got far fewer people identifying as “liberals” than identify as “conservatives” (35 percent). And we have yet to see a stampede of Democrats rushing to embrace the label.
But for a label that Democrats have shunned for a while now, it seems to be on the ascent.
There’s a bit more to the article explaining what factors are leading to this, social issues being among them.
Personally, I’d like to see the country shift further left, that is, were “moderates” are actually at the center and not right of center as they seem to be now.