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.”
A full 77 percent of Americans who label themselves conservative or “very” conservative agreed with the statement, compared to 64 percent of moderates, 52 percent of liberals and 42 percent of those who consider themselves “very” liberal.
Overall, 62 percent of Americans say they self-censor due to the political climate.
Cato asked the same question in 2017. Since then, conservatives, moderates and liberals all have experienced a 7 percent 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 percent of those who call themselves “very” liberal say they feel comfortable saying what they believe, compared to only 23 percent 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 own marginalization,” 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 are on the decline, and no doubt that conservative ideas are sidelined in many elite institutions.”
The survey involved interviews with 2,000 Americans and was released July 22.
Meanwhile, 43 percent of liberals and 50 percent 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 percent backed such an action.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.