America’s Liberal Social Climate and Trends

  • Hout M
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The late James A. Davis characterized American public opinion in the Reagan era as “conservative weather” amidst a liberalizing “climate.” By climate, he meant differences between cohorts, while the weather referred to trends within cohorts. Thirty years later, the public opinion climate continues to get more liberal, as each successive cohort continues to be more liberal, on balance, than the ones that came before them. Recent weather complements that by being quite liberal, too. Specifically, 62 percent of variables analyzed were more liberal in recent birth cohorts than they were in the oldest ones, but just 5 percent were more conservative (some did not differ among cohorts, and some were neither liberal nor conservative). Within cohorts, recent measurements were more liberal than early measurements for 51 percent of the variables and more conservative for 11 percent




Hout, M. (2022). America’s Liberal Social Climate and Trends. Public Opinion Quarterly, 85(4), 1009–1049.

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