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The percentage of GSS respondents who have ever “expressed political views on the internet”, by political orientation (n = 1,203, the question was posed for the first time in 2014):

Orientation %Expressed
Liberal 32.4
Moderate 18.0
Conservative 20.6

This isn’t just the result of people tending to become more conservative as they get older and of older people being less likely to be plugged into the internet. The pattern holds consistently across age ranges. Among those under 30:

Orientation %Expressed
Liberal 45.0
Moderate 26.1
Conservative 34.3

Adults aged 30-64:

Orientation %Expressed
Liberal 32.7
Moderate 18.9
Conservative 20.8

Seniors, aged 65 and older:

Orientation %Expressed
Liberal 14.2
Moderate 5.1
Conservative 10.8

The “silent majority” remains a fairly relevant phrase today.

Parenthetically, self-described liberals and conservatives are about at parity when it comes to intelligence. Moderates tend to be of more modest intellectual capabilities, so the fact that they are less likely to broadcast their political sentiments than the more politically committed isn’t surprising since many of them probably don’t have established views and among those who do have them, many haven’t given much thought to them.

GSS variables used: POLINTER(1-2)(3-4), AGE(18-29)(30-64)(65-89), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7)

(Republished from The Audacious Epigone by permission of author or representative)
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  1. I have known many liberal-presenting individuals who would regularly express conservative notions completely unbeknownst to them.

    In our day and age it seems that liberalism and political correctness are the orthodox faith and that people who don't really believe in modern liberal values will still identify as liberals.

    I would suspect that the silent majority is really a much larger majority many of whom don't even consciously realize they aren't liberals at heart.

  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I expect it's the "Shy Tory", effect to some extent.

    One idea:

    Conservative values are often more or less the values of local community, and that will gain you status in a local community setting, much more than in the anonymous marketplace of ideas that is the net.

    Going into your local church and being some absolutely ridiculous pompous blowhard* who very vocally blathers on about the sanctity of marriage and so on will gain you kudos, because in that setting you're around your community, and this community stability promoting value will be approved and self enhancing.

    On the net, there's a lot less point. Are the anonymous non-communities of the net going to thank you for promoting community stability?

    Same way people don't express ideas in their workplace that they would in a local community setting, like a pub, because in a typical corporate workplace, it's all about being tolerant and working together, making the corporate machine run well, not about values that rub up against that but promote human long term community stability.

    While moderates are just less politically engaged in general, not that they're less good people.

    *to the extent that churches allow pompous blowhards, which is probably more in some faiths than others, e.g. typical West Asian Muslims are probably more accepting of self appointed rabble rousing arrogant defenders of the faith and community than typical individualistic / hierarchical / quiet Scando-Protestants.

  3. Probably the most interesting finding is that significantly less than half those polled have expressed political views on the internet! Just imagine how noisy it would get on Facebook if all your friends started saying how they felt.

    Razib has mentioned before about often being in social situations where those around him assume everyone present has liberal views and I can definitely relate to that. It sort of comes with the territory of being intelligent since the right tail of the bell curve is heavily liberal. If you filter for wordsum scores, it turns out that among the less intelligent, conservatives are more likely to have expressed political views on the internet.

    My best guess is that given that many forums on the internet are not anonymous, the casual, intelligent conservative would be much more leery of expressing their true beliefs due to the risk of ostracism from their social network. I know I definitely experienced it from my extended family a few years back when I expressed HBDish beliefs (not necessarily conservative, but definitely toxic to liberal orthodoxy) and have no desire to repeat the process. I'm glad I get to sound off and get feedback pseudonymously in corners of the internet like this one but this sort of thing doesn't appeal to most people.

  4. Anon,

    Probably so. While I don't think the intellectual environment is becoming more tolerant of heterodox views per se, I am cautiously optimistic that more and more people are scoffing at the hysteria that inevitably follows whenever someone makes a candid observation that violates PC norms.


    Maybe. Do you think conservatives are more vocal at the 'grassroots' level, then?


    I've experienced the same thing, and by default HBD gets lumped in with the right since it's not, by definition, egalitarian. I used to be a lot more subtle and reserved about my views, but as I told Jayman a couple weeks ago, "Some combination of getting older, more financially secure, (hopefully) more courageous, and most importantly becoming more cautiously optimistic about the state of discussion about human nature have combined to make me no longer care about keeping the pseudonym, well, pseudonymous" or my observations bottled up.

  5. Simple explanation

    Liberals have fewer kids and therefore more time to go comment online.

  6. Dan says:

    @Anon Lastbend —

    People can act very conservative while talking very liberal, and I hope some salvation lies there.

    * People spout the most extreme leftest nonsense on things sexual. Yet they aren't out having sex more, or getting divorced more, or experiencing teen pregnancy more. My liberal Montgomery County Maryland pioneered allowing men to use the ladies room and vice-versa because equality some years ago. Yet the actual phenomen is exceedingly rare. As in, I have not ever seen it occur. This is a tiny group.

    * People seem very liberal on substances, drugs and such but it doesn't seem like drugs are used more.

    * Liberals have some very clear revealed preferences on where they want to live, neighbors etc.

    I note places like Russia where social conservatism is expressed strongly in words and law, but where AIDs soars, substance abuse is extreme and fidelity and divorce numbers are much worse than ours. This extends all the way to leadership where their SoCon president apparently doesn't act it in private life, while our leftist president is a Mr. Cleaver traditionalist in his home life.

    I'd rather have pro-social words and actions both, of course.

  7. "People can act very conservative while talking very liberal, and I hope some salvation lies there."


    You get more of the behavior that is rewarded. The punishment for bad behavior doesn't actually exist anymore and in many cases is actually rewarded.

  8. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    AE: Maybe. Do you think conservatives are more vocal at the 'grassroots' level, then?

    Could be.

    Dan: I note places like Russia where social conservatism is expressed strongly in words and law, but where AIDs soars, substance abuse is extreme and fidelity and divorce numbers are much worse than ours.

    Russian divorces as a percentage of marriages seem about the same as the West (USA, UK, Canada). It's post Communist, whatever its hyper muscular form of social conservatism these days, and there's a legacy there. Although they seem to marry more often, so perhaps that's more conservative. Heroin use (AIDs and needles) and drunkenness I don't think have too much to do with social conservatism. As in Progs moan about them as often as Cons, even if they have different ideas about what to do about them.

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