Deception & Misdirection

Burying the Lede: Conservatives outnumber liberals in almost all states… but you’d never know it from the media

Continuing our series on the use of deception in politics and public policy

A series of Gallup polls has shown that conservatives outnumber liberals in 48, 49, or 50 states.

If you think that such a result would be on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers and in first 30 seconds of national news broadcasts, you’re wrong.

Chris Plante, a radio talk show host based at WMAL in Washington, D.C., notes that “the media’s most insidious power is the power to ignore.”  Never has that been more clear than during the Obama administration, during which the media have ignored (or actively helped conceal) scandals ranging from Fast and Furious, to the President’s admission that his autobiography was fiction, to Al Qaeda’s comeback and the Benghazi disaster and cover-up.

Sometimes, the media keep their readers, viewers, and listeners ignorant by focusing on the less important part of a story and ignoring the most important part or relegating it to the 7th, 17th, or 27th paragraph of a story.  This is called “burying the lede” and, in past times, was considered a symptom of journalistic incompetence.  Today, it’s standard practice for stories that make conservatives look good or leftists look bad.

Each year, the Gallup organization publishes the state-by-state results of its surveys asking people to identify themselves as conservatives, moderates, or liberals. And each year, the Gallup study shows conservatives far in the lead of liberals and politically viable in nearly every state.

The average of the last four published Gallup studies shows conservatives in the lead in 49 states, and tied with liberals in one (Massachusetts).

Looking at individual studies, here are the results:

Plurality: Which group is biggest in each state ─  conservatives, moderates, or liberals?

mid-2009  (first six months of 2009)

  • Conservatives ─ 26 states (tied with moderates in 3)
  • Moderates ─ 21 states (tied with conservatives in 3)
  • Liberals ─ ZERO states

2010  [published in 2011]

  • Conservatives ─ 34 states
  • Moderates ─ 16 states
  • Liberals ─ ZERO states

2011  [published in 2012]

  • Conservatives ─ 36 states
  • Moderates ─ 14 states
  • Liberals ─ ZERO states

2012  [published in 2013]

  • Conservatives ─ 33 states
  • Moderates ─ 17 states
  • Liberals ─ ZERO states


One-third or more: In how many states do conservatives or liberals each have at least one-third of the population?

mid-2009  (first six months of 2009)

  • Conservatives ─ 42 states
  • Liberals ─ ZERO states


  • Conservatives ─ 41 states
  • Liberals ─ ZERO states


  • Conservatives ─ 44 states
  • Liberals ─ ZERO states


  • Conservatives ─ 39 states
  • Liberals ─ ZERO states


Which group is bigger in each state ─ conservatives or liberals?

mid-2009  (first six months of 2009)

  • Conservatives ─ 50 states
  • Liberals ─ ZERO states


  • Conservatives ─ 50 states
  • Liberals ─ ZERO states


  • Conservatives ─ 49 states
  • Liberals ─ ONE state


  • Conservatives ─ 48 states
  • Liberals ─ TWO states

To reiterate:

In the Gallup studies over the past four years, conservatives have outnumbered liberals in 48, 49, or 50 states. (The average: 49 states with one tie.) Liberals have outnumbered conservatives in zero, 1, or 2 states.

How was this reported in the news media?

Like this?

No, of course not.  That headline is obviously fake, because the Establishment Media would never admit such a thing.

Instead, the headlines were like this:

Talking Points Memo.


Huffington Post.

USA Today.

Time magazine.


Even Glenn Beck’s The Blaze and other conservative publications followed the lead of the Establishment Media, and buried the lead (presumably because they didn’t notice the most important part of the story).

Here’s how CNN reported one of the earlier Gallup studies. Notice anything about the map?

It shows the states color-coded based on how they compare to the average — whether each state is more conservative than average, less conservative, or about average.

That makes it appear that the country is evenly divided, instead of overwhelmingly conservative.

Now look at the maps we saw above, in Salon and Politico.

Again, note that the maps that are used map it appear, falsely, that the country is evenly divided between conservative and liberal states. (The maps are actually presidential election maps unrelated to the stories they illustrate.)

CNN pulled that same trick a while back, seen here (although, after this was initially posted, a disclaimer was attached noting that the map was an election map).

So that’s another way the Establishment Media mislead the American people, and misleads conservatives in particular.

Why? Because, as is known to anyone who’s read the classic The Art of War, a critical aspect of strategy is to mislead your opponent about your own strengths and weaknesses and his own. Trick him into attacking you where you’re strong rather than where you’re weak. Or, in this case, trick conservatives into underestimating their own strength, so that they don’t even contest elections in certain states ─ elections that, at least some of the time, they would win.

Of course, there is a downside to this type of deception. What happens when you fool your own side, too? You end up making strategic blunders such as the one reflected in this headline about the President’s strategy for victory.

For people on the Left, there’s nothing more dangerous than believing your own press.

Tags:  Gallup

Dr. Steven J. Allen

A journalist with 45 years’ experience, Dr. Allen served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton and as senior researcher for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. He earned a master’s…
+ More by Dr. Steven J. Allen