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Pew Poll: Well-Educated Adults More Consistently Liberal

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A Pew Research Center poll released today shows an ideological gap among American adults: Those with more education tend to hold more liberal values while those with less education lean conservative.

Pew conducted a survey in 2015 of more than 6,000 adults on a wide range of political values, including government performance, the environment, LGBT issues, social safety nets and immigration. The poll found 31 percent of people with postgraduate education identify as "consistently liberal," 10 percent identify as "consistently conservative." Just 5 percent with a high school education or less identify as "consistently liberal" and 8 percent of those with the same level of education identify as "consistently conservative."

Across all levels of education, 13 percent identify as "consistently liberal" and 10 percent say they are "consistently conservative."

What's more, ideological differences between those with more and less education have deepened in the past 20 years. In 1994, 7 percent of those with postgraduate experience identified as "consistently liberal." Those with a high school diploma or less were 1 percent "consistently liberal" in the mid-1990s.

People with consistently conservative political positions took a hit in the mid-2000s across all levels of education. In 2004, just 4 percent of those with a college level of education or more identified as "consistently conservative." Those numbers dropped to 3 percent for adults with some college education or less. Today, people with consistently conservative positions range between 8 and 11 percent across all levels of education.

The findings come after Pew conducted a survey in autumn 2015 of more than 6,000 adults on a wide range of political values, including government performance, the environment, LGBT issues, social safety nets and immigration.

The poll has also identified strong polarization among the U.S. electorate. In 1994, 3 percent and 7 percent of U.S. adults were consistently liberal and conservative, respectively. In 2015, 13 percent were "consistently liberal," and 10 percent were "consistently conservative." Those with mixed liberal and conservative positions declined from 49 percent in 1994 to 38 percent in 2015.