Fewer Alaskans are calling themselves conservative, while more identify as progressive or moderate, according to a recently released poll.
Evidence of the trend was announced Monday by the Alaska Survey Research, an Anchorage-based organization that tracks evolving ideologies of residents statewide. The group, headed by researcher Ivan Moore, polled 750 people randomly every quarter for the past six years. The pool included adults ages 18 and older, and a variety of ethnicities and genders.
Among many questions on the survey was “Politically, do you consider yourself to be conservative, moderate or progressive?”
Between 2010 and 2015 the percentage of those calling themselves conservatives dropped from 44 percent to 34 percent. During that same period, self-declared moderates grew from 40 percent to 46 percent and self-declared progressives rose from 16 to 20 percent.
“It is kind of a gradual thing that we can only really see when we look at this data over an extended period of time,” Moore said.
Moore said the survey included no definition of the three categories. People were expected to answer based on what those words meant to themselves, he said.
Moore said one reason may be that some of the population is changing their attitudes on the conservative label. But, he said, that doesn’t explain everything.
Through a generational shift and migrations of populations in and out of the state, demographics are changing, and there are external factors influencing opinions, Moore said.
With Alaskan millennials focused on issues like gay rights, climate change and marijuana legalization, the state overall is becoming more moderate, Moore said. Then there are significant shifts when notable political events occur such as President Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012, which was followed by the highest number of self-identifying progressives recorded at 22 percent of the polled populations, he said.
“This is all supposition and conjecture,” he added.
In Moore’s press release Monday, he included information on party affiliation, which hasn’t seen changes proportionate to the shift in political ideology. He said he couldn’t explain the decline in registered Democrats from 15.5 percent to 14 percent between 2010 and 2015, but the number of voters who did not register for a party or are unaffiliated increased.
Moore said he didn’t include the question on the survey for its own sake. He uses the data to make connections between affiliations and preferences to political candidates, officials and events.
The samples were taken randomly, and 60 percent ended up being cell phone users while 40 percent were polled over home phone lines, Moore said. Calls were made to Anchorage, which made up 42 percent of the total number of residents surveyed. Another 13 percent were located in Fairbanks, 24 percent in the Mat-Su Valley and Kenai Peninsula, 12 percent in the Southeast region and 8 percent were located in rural areas, he said.
All collected data was weighted, which means if more males than females were polled or an unbalanced number of younger or older residents, survey results were refigured in those areas to present an accurate distribution of those demographics, Moore said. Census data was used to calculate what an accurate representation would look like, he said.
Moore said when he first pulled out the data he was shocked at how clear the trend was.
“Holy smokes — that is just a straight line down and moderate straight line up,” Moore said.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.