24 Political Ideology

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Define Political Ideology
  • List the predominant ideologies
  • Understand the distribution of political ideologies in Texas


A political ideology is a certain set of ethical ideals, principles, doctrines, myths or symbols of a social movement, institution, class or large group that explains how society should work and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order.

Predominant ideologies

Political ideologies in the United States (and as a subset, Texas) refers to the various ideologies and ideological demographics in the United States. Citizens in the U.S. generally classify themselves as adherent to positions along the political spectrum as either liberal, progressive, moderate, or conservative. Modern liberalism aims at the preservation and extension of human, social and civil rights as well as the government guaranteed provision of positive rights. Conservatism commonly refers to a combination of economic liberalism and libertarianism, and to an extent, social conservatism. It aims at protecting the concepts of small government and individual liberty, while promoting traditional values on some social issues.


Liberals advocate strong civil liberties and social progressivism according to which societal practices need to be changed whenever necessary for the greater good of society or the benefits of those who wish to engage in those social arrangements. They believe that government action is needed in order for people to be as free as possible. Government must thereby ensure the provision of positive rights, protect civil liberties and ensure equality. Liberals commonly reject both laissez-faire capitalism and socialism as means to distribute economic resources. A mixed economy, that is a capitalist free market economy with limited government regulation and intervention is seen as the ideal. 


The word “conservative” comes from “conserve,” hence describing those who generally wish to conserve the status quo, conserve morality, or conserve money. Views on individual policies vary among different sub-groups. Overall, a majority of conservatives support tax-cuts and other laissez-faire (reduced governmental interference) policies, oppose same-sex marriage, oppose abortion, oppose stricter gun control laws on the grounds of the Second Amendment and public safety, and favor increased military spending as opposed to other federal expenditures. Conservatives tend to favor (racial) color-blindness and oppose affirmative action/positive discrimination quotas. Conservatives tend to favor state governments over the federal, reserving the federal for matters of national security.


Moderate is a general term for people who fall in the center category between Liberals and Conservatives.

Moderates incorporate different aspects from liberalism and conservatism into their personal perspective. Moderates are commonly defined through limiting the extent to which they adopt liberal and conservative ideas.

Ideological Distribution in Texas

The Texas Politics Project based at the University of Texas at Austin in partnership with the Texas Tribune conducts statewide public opinion polls each year to assess the opinions of registered voters on upcoming elections, public policy, and attitudes towards politics, politicians, and government.

In February of 2018, the University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll surveyed 1200 registered voters and asked respondents to self identify on a scale from 1 to 7, where 1 is extremely liberal, 7 is extremely conservative, and 4 is exactly in the middle. As you can see in the image below, Texas is a “center right” state.


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