Byron York

They're not terribly religious. According to Pew, 10 percent describe themselves as atheists, nine percent as agnostics, and 22 percent as "nothing in particular." Together, that is 41 percent who have no religious affiliation at all. Most of the rest aren't very devout, either.

They voted for Obama more than any other ideological group -- 91 percent. Today they give the president a job approval rating of 84 percent -- 40 points higher than the public at large. They identify with the Democratic Party more than any of the conservative groups identify with the GOP.

According to Pew, the most conservative Americans are likely to say that honor and duty are their core values. Solid liberals are more likely to say that compassion and helping others are their core values.

Pew researchers tested several ideas with solid liberals to discover their "key beliefs." Some of the statements they reacted most positively to include: 1) "Stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost." 2) "Immigrants today strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents." 3) "Good diplomacy is the best way to ensure peace." 4) "The U.S. economic system unfairly favors powerful interests." And 5) "Abortion should be legal in all or most cases."

They agree with the statement that the United States is a great country, but do not believe it is any greater than some other countries.

But here's the thing: Despite negative feelings about the U.S., solid liberals are the most optimistic of any of the categories; 70 percent say America's best days lie ahead. And more than any other group, they believe the United States has been successful not for its reliance on any set of principles but because of its ability to change.

Back in 2008, Michelle Obama stirred controversy when she said, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country." As the presidential campaign went on, her pride in America was buoyed by her husband's success -- a symbol, to her, of change in the United States.

There seems no doubt the country has changed in the solid liberals' direction. There is a fledgling national health care system. More economic regulation. New environmental restrictions. A strongly pro-choice administration. A growing immigrant population.

That's a lot of change -- in just the last few years. Maybe those solid liberals should feel proud a bit more often.


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner