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The sun setting Jan. 23 along the Gulf coast near Alabama Port, Ala. / Dave Martin, AP

Moving up from fourth-place, Alabama claimed the title as the most conservative state in the nation last year, according to a Gallup Poll released Friday.

North Dakota and Wyoming tied for second place.

In 2011, Mississippi was ranked as the reddest state, followed closely by Utah, and Wyoming and Alabama.

On the liberal side of the ideological ledger, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont repeated as the most liberal states, although the District of Columbia topped them all by a wide margin.

In the middle, Alaska edged out Rhode Island as the most moderate state.

Bottom line: Based on residents' own reports of their ideology, "America has become a slightly more liberal and a slightly less conservative nation than it was in 2011," Gallup concludes, "but conservatives still outnumber both moderates and liberals."

Overall, Americans in 2012 "remained slightly more likely to identify as conservative (38%) than as moderate (36%) or as liberal (23%), a pattern that reflects the general consistency in ideological self-reports over recent years."

The pollster says the results "generally reflects the familiar 'blue state,' 'red state' patterns that define the political geography of today's modern America." But it offers these caveats:

Three of the 10 most Republican states -- Kansas, Montana, and Alaska -- do not rank among the most conservative states. And Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas rank in the top 10 conservative states but not the 10 most Republican. ...

There is somewhat more accordance between the most liberal and most Democratic states. Only Illinois and Maryland rank among the most Democratic but not the most liberal. Oregon and Washington state rank among the 10 most liberal states but not the 10 most Democratic. ...

The distribution of moderates across the states is not highly related to the basic partisanship of the states. The state with the most moderates -- Alaska -- typically votes Republican and has a high Republican identification. The other two states with the highest percentage of moderate residents are Rhode Island (a blue state) and Ohio (a swing, competitive state).

Here's how the top-10 fared in each category:

Conservative:

Alabama ?? 50.6%

North Dakota ?? 48.6%

Wyoming ?? 48.6%

Mississippi ?? 48.2%

Utah ?? 48.0%

Oklahoma ?? 47.3%

Idaho ?? 47.1%

Louisiana ?? 45.6%

Nebraska ?? 45.3%

Arkansas ?? 45.5%

Liberal:

District of Columbia ?? 40.8%

Massachusetts ?? 30.5%

Oregon ?? 29.3%

Vermont ?? 29.2%

Delaware ?? 28.4%

Connecticut ?? 28.4%

Washington ?? 28.3%

Rhode Island ?? 28.3%

Hawaii ?? 27.7%

New York ?? 27.7%

Moderate:

Alaska ?? 42.7%

Rhode Island ?? 41.5%

Ohio ?? 39.5%

Maryland ?? 38.3%

Massachusetts ?? 38.1%

Michigan ?? 38.0%

Nevada ?? 37.8%

Connecticut ?? 37.8%

Montana ?? 37.6%

New Jersey ?? 37.6%

What about famously "liberal" California? In the Golden State, it trended reddish-purple: 36.1% moderate, 33.2% conservative and 26.9% liberal.

The results come from telephone interviews that Gallup conducted between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, with a random sample of 211,972 adults, ages 18 and older.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Poll: Ala. most conservative state; Mass. most liberal

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