On Thursday, we threw some cold water on the idea that Americans are becoming more politically independent -- even as a new Gallup poll showed a record number of people claim the I-word as their political affiliation.
Well on Friday, the very same pollster shows that the rise in "independents" clearly does not mean a rise in "moderates" or even a decrease in partisanship. In fact, quite the opposite.
The poll shows a record low number of Americans now identify as "moderates" -- at least going back to 1992. And perhaps more illustrative, a record high number of Americans identify as "liberal."
Just 34 percent of Americans now call themselves moderates -- down one point from the last two years. Here's that chart:
Perhaps the more interesting numbers in the chart, though, are the lowest ones. While Republicans have used the word "liberal" with great gusto to marginalize Democrats over the last couple decades, it's becoming more and more en vogue -- at least among Democrats.
While just 29 percent of Democrats used the L-word in 2000, 44 percent use it today. That's still well shy of the 70 percent of Republicans who identify as "conservative," of course.
Could that be partially because some conservative Southern Democrats are finally leaving their party, once and for all, and leaving a more liberal party behind? Sure. But most polling suggests they left the party years ago.
There were about the same number of conservative Southern Democrats in Gallup's 2005 poll (21 percent) as there are today (19 percent). But while the number of conservative Democrats dropped by two points over that span, the number of liberal Democrats has risen 10 points, from 34 percent to 44 percent. So it's pretty clear that some Democrats who used to avoid the term are warming to it.
Which is why liberals now comprise about one-quarter of Americans.