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Most American Conservatives keep their views private due to “political climate”

A large majority of American conservatives say the political climate prevents them from saying what they believe, according to a new Cato survey that also shows liberals are far less likely to feel the need to self-censor. Cato asked Americans of all ideologies if they believed the “political climate these days prevents me from saying things I believe because others might find them offensive.” The survey involved interviews with 2,000 Americans.


A full 77 per cent of Americans who label themselves conservative or “very” conservative agreed with the statement, compared to 64 per cent of moderates, 52 per cent of liberals and 42 per cent of those who consider themselves “very” liberal.

Cato asked the same question in 2017. Since then, conservatives, moderates and liberals have all experienced a seven per cent increase in the percentage who say they self-censor. Still, “strong liberals stand out as the only political group who feel they can express themselves,” Cato’s Emily Ekins said in an online analysis.

A total of 58 per cent of those who call themselves “very” liberal say they feel comfortable saying what they believe, compared to only 23 per cent of conservatives and those who call themselves “very” conservative.

“The strong feeling of having to self-censor is likely somewhat rooted in a media and political culture that thrives on peddling its marginalisation,” Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown wrote in an online analysis. “But there’s also statistical evidence that self-identification with conservatism and the Republican Party is on the decline, and no doubt that conservative ideas are sidelined in many elite institutions.”

Meanwhile, 43 per cent of liberals and 50 per cent of self-identified “very” liberals said a business executive who donates to President Trump should be fired, according to the survey. Among all Americans, 31 per cent backed such an action.



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