by Geoffrey Nunberg
Here are some curious little factoids that come up in when you do counts in Nexis U.S. newspapers. There are really two things to be explained here: the striking discrepancy in frequency between "social conservative" and "social liberal," which I think is politically revealing, and the discrepancy between the use of "social" and "economic," which probably isn't. (For some reason, both sorts of modifiers are more common in papers like The New York Times and The Washington Post than in smaller metropolitan dailies). Rather than offering my own theories, though, I'll throw these out as an exercise to the reader.
Fifteen years ago, by the way, "social liberal" slightly
outnumbered "social conservative," though both terms were far less frequent than they are now.