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New Gallup Poll Ranks the Most Conservative States — And Finds Additional Trouble For the GOP

The latest Gallup poll ranks states by association with liberal/conservative ideology. The demographic results aren't incredibly surprising, but the split between conservative tenets and today's Republican Party is becoming increasingly stark.  

Washington D.C., Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Delaware, Connecticut, Washington, Rhode Island, Hawaii and New York came in with the largest populations identifying as liberal.   

Alabama, North Dakota, Wyoming, Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska and Arkansas came in with the largest populations identifying as conservative.

Besides Vermont and D.C., all the liberal states are on a coast, while all the conservative states are in the South, Midwest or Mountain Western regions. This spread of "red" and "blue" states continues to reflect the standard pattern in America's political landscape. 

The top 10 liberal states all align with the Democratic Party, though Illinois and Maryland rank in the 10 most Democratic but not the most liberal. 

There was not a perfect correlation, however, between ideology and party among conservative states. Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas all rank in the 10 most conservative states but not in the 10 most Republican, and three of the 10 most Republican states, Kansas, Montana and Alaska, do not rank among the 10 most conservative.

This break speaks to the continued dissonance between individuals' definition of conservative versus where they stand with the GOP of 2012. It highlights the impact the party's prolonged "existential crisis" has had on potential voters. This exigency of credo plays in the public sphere, impacting how ideology does (or does not) align with party.       

The crisis, of course, is the continued disagreement within the GOP on what being a conservative means and how policies should be advanced accordingly. Many in the GOP blame the lack of electoral success last November on viable candidates and urge a shift further to the right (if that's possible). Others recognize that the shift towards extremism has disgusted many moderates, and note that any political success in the future is dependent on acknowledgement of the changing demographic.

Two days before the Gallup poll was released, HuffPo's Alex Knepper (rightly) pointed out that the GOP has become so right-wing and radical, and has strayed so far from the actual definition of conservative, that it doesn't even fit the original translation. Many who identify with more traditional conservative doctrine don't align with the Republican Party.

This split is especially seen in geographic terms - the GOP has lost significant political sway on the coasts. In a recent Daily Beast article, John Avalon charted the decline of the "Northeast" Republican influence, pointing out that 15 years ago, Republican leadership dotted the northeast. This leadership, however, was of a more centrist, moderate type.

The party has pushed to a point that's extremist and ugly, bringing on this identity dilemma. As long as this happens, it will continue to lose demographic ground in moderate areas and discord between those identifying as "conservative" and those voting with the party will increase. 

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