Opinion: Another sign Democrats have moved farther from the middle

If you think the other side has been moving away from the middle, you’re right. No matter which side you’re on.

But you’re a little more right if you think that’s true about Democrats.

That’s the big takeaway from a new survey by the Pew Research Center, which takes a periodic look at partisanship on various issues. The survey shows how attitudes on 10 issues have changed among self-identified Republican and Democrat voters (not elected officials) since 1994:

The gap has been widening, but it’s chiefly because Democrats have moved further to the left during the past 23 years than Republicans have to the right. That is true of all of the issues shown above, except the one about environmental regulations.

Pew asked respondents to agree with one of two statements on each subject. One is phrased in a way that matches the stereotype of Republicans, and one of Democrats. (We could argue about the various phrasings, and whether they’re truly accurate, but the point here is that they’ve been asked the same way over this period of time, making comparisons over time more valid.) Above, you see how the responses compare for the stereotypical “GOP answer.”

You’ll notice something: On six of the 10 questions, Republicans’ responses moved by less than 10 percentage points; that was true on just one of 10 issues for Democrats. And on two of the issues where Republicans moved by more than 10 points, they moved away from the typical “GOP answer.”

On average, across all 10 issues, Republicans have changed by zero points.

So overall, Republicans essentially stand right where they did in 1994. Moderate moves toward the “GOP answer” on questions like government help for the poor and achieving peace through strength were totally offset by larger moves toward the “Democratic answer” on topics such as immigration and homosexuality. The latter two are especially interesting: Republicans in 2017 answered those questions in a more liberal way than Democrats in 1994 did, yet the left still portrays the GOP as an anti-immigrant, anti-gay party.

By contrast, Democrats as a group have moved only to the left, shifting away from the “GOP answer” on every count — by an average of 21 points. On three of the questions, more than half of Democrats in 1994 actually sided with the “GOP answer.” Now there’s only one issue on which the “GOP answer” garners more than a third of Democrats.

Pew didn’t provide a similarly compact graphic for the “Democratic answers,” but they can be found one by one throughout the report (except for the question about government waste and efficiency). Here’s a summary:

  • Republicans moved away from the “Democratic answer” on six of nine issues, by an average of 5 points (with moves to the right again partially offset by moves to the left).
  • Democrats moved toward the “Democratic answer” on every issue, by an average of 23 points.

For those of you who prefer a visual representation, here’s how Pew depicts the parties’ movement:

You’ll notice that, as recently as 2004, the median Democrat and the median Republican were pretty close to the middle, and to each other. Now they’re quite far apart. And as you can see by comparing the line for each party’s median to the edge of the graphic, the median Democrat is further to the left than the median Republican is to the right. Judging as well by the height of each group as they approach the edges, there are more Democrats at the far left side than there are Republicans at the far right side.

This appears to be a generational shift, meaning it probably isn’t changing dramatically anytime soon. It’s one reason expecting the legislative process to produce a durable, bipartisan answer on today’s thorniest issues — and Pew didn’t even ask about health care directly — is probably wishful thinking.

The answer, as I’ve suggested when it comes to health care, isn’t to try to force the prevailing party’s solution on everyone else — only for the other party to try to move sharply in the other direction when it comes to power. It’s to devolve as much of this decision-making as possible to lower levels of government, where the stakes aren’t as high and more political consensus exists. That’s why, to those who are truly interested in how we can possibly navigate such choppy political waters, I can’t recommend Yuval Levin’s “The Fractured Republic” highly enough. The question going forward isn’t how we move back to the middle, but how we govern anyway.

 

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189 comments
panacifuga
panacifuga

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breckenridge
breckenridge

The republican tax legislation is far from a given.  Bob Corker, completely independent of his spat with Trump, is opposed to any tax package that will increase the budget deficit.  Corker is something of a fiscal hawk, something sadly lacking in the GOP.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Gabriel Sherman wrote the Vanity Fair piece on Trump.  Sherman also wrote the Roger Ailes biography.

It was rather strange the way the Fox News dismissal of Bill O'Reilly unfolded; he was dismissed when it became know that he and/or Fox had reached out of court settlements on a number of sexual harassment/misconduct lawsuits.  But that was something Sherman detailed in the Ailes biography, it had been public knowledge for quite some time.


Donald Trump is unstable and unfit to serve as president.

bendedknee
bendedknee

Corker softning the Conned stupids up for a 25th amenedment challenge to Trump.

Eustis
Eustis

Time for a new party consisting of moderates interested in making this Country better for all.

bendedknee
bendedknee

Orange clown has no idea what the 25th  amendment is:

"Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon reportedly has told people he thinks President Donald Trump has just a 30% chance of completing his four-year term.

The detail came in an explosive report from Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman on Wednesday that cited several sources close to the president.

According to two of the sources, Bannon warned Trump several months ago about the possibility of getting removed from office via the 25th Amendment, prompting Trump to ask, "What's that?""


AOL News



Let the psych exams begin.

Pub Heaven
Pub Heaven

Is our President's IQ high enough to notice there are Americans burning in California?

breckenridge
breckenridge

Well, these charts certainly show why so many conservatives lean heavily on religious beliefs to help them sleep at night.

At or about age 35 is the dividing line for evangelical Christians.

Those under 35 (real followers of Christ) try to emulate Jesus in their daily lives - they're big into feeding the hungry, fighting human trafficking, taking care of the planet, and so forth. They are generally against gay marriage and abortion, but those are personal beliefs for them, and they don't think they should be legislated.

The over 35 crowd (social conservatives) have no interest in actually trying to live their lives according to the examples and teachings of Jesus.  They're only interested in 1) (illegitimately) legislating their views and 2) beating people over the head with the Bible. 

King Tut 0603
King Tut 0603

So Kyle, you think it is far-left  to believe that racism in America is a problem; to question our huge expenditures on the military; to be concerned about the environment and our impact on it and to question the impact of unfettered capitalism? 


What your charts show is that Republicans don't question anything and are likely to be hostile to be who do not think nor look like them. 

Doomy
Doomy

@King Tut 0603


"So Kyle, you think it is far-left  to believe that racism in America is a problem"


Racism is not a major problem in America. If it were then minorities like east Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, and Southern Asian Americans wouldn't be having the success that they are having. And all those brown folks from Central America wouldn't be braving death crossing hostile deserts to get here, either. 


"to question the impact of unfettered capitalism?"


It could be that we don't question unfettered capitalism because we have seen America rise from a fledgling nation in 1776 to the most powerful nation on Earth by WW1 due to unfettered capitalism. It could also be that when we look at other nations like Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, S. Korea, and now China since it embraced capitalistic reforms that we've seen them all rise from impoverished backwater nations to  stunning prosperity due to "unfettered capitalism". And it could also be that when we look at the Scandinavian nations that we know that their wealth largely derived from free market reforms and market oriented economies from 1870 to 1970. 


The empirical evidence surrounding the prosperity and bounty of "unfettered capitalism" is why we don't question it. 

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Doomy @King Tut 0603 Doomy does not understand the word "unfettered." The Scandinavian nations are a prime example of capitalism that is "fettered."

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

Looks like the twitter in chief is at it again. From stock market to NFL to tax cuts to fake news to NBC. Corker's right. Its like an adult day care center over there.


Doomy
Doomy

@McGarnagle


I have to admit Trump's twitter rants have materially changed my life in so many significant ways that it's just turrible. Turrible I tells ya! 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Looks like the far-left kooks become kooks by reading kookie far-left material or visiting the web sites.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@SGTGrit


Looks like the far-right kooks become kooks by reading kookie far-right material or visiting drudge or breitbart.

Robert1959
Robert1959

Kyle, when were the republican ever close to the middle over the past 8 years? 

Russian dictator Putin is a known racist and bigot worldwide and has weaponized America's biggest Sins - hatred, fear and bigotry as a weapon of mass destruction.  No other weapon would have achieved the desired results on a global scale (UK, Germany, France etc.) without firing a single shot.   GOP lawmakers all across the USA in all branches (Federal, State, local governments) are walking in lockstep with Donald "birther" Trump, 1st white nationalist/white supremacist POTUS.  The question is why?  Did Russia loan Trump money? Did Russia "blackmail" Trump to keep the "birther" "lie" alive for 8 years? How many other GOP lawmakers are getting money from Russia?

Russian dictator Putin is a known racist and bigot worldwide. I wish President Barack Obama, 1st Black American President of the United States of America 2008-2016 would have kicked Putin little white a$$.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/how-russia-harvested-american-rage-to-reshape-us-politics/ar-AAtdOSP?li=AA5a8k&ocid=spartandhp




JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Robert1959

Thanks Robert for being the walking, I assume you walk, talking example of Liberal lunacy.

And to top it off, you posted a link to The New York Times.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but American backlash to Liberal government started in 2010 the first election after Obama and long before Trump announced running for president.

And it was an American ground swell, not Russia meddling.

As to the Russian meddling, Facebook especially is the modern day equivalent of scribbling on the bathroom stall.

Only the challenged believe it.

And when and if you Progs ever come to your senses over Trump you will realize it was not Russia that beat Hillary.

Doomy
Doomy

@Robert1959


Could you possibly have written a more lunacy filled rant, Robert? 

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

Interesting article about what I typed below from today.

https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/10/11/16447008/christianity-america-politically-polarized

"Almost two-thirds of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters now say belief in God is not part of being a good person"

It seems like Republicans believe that belief alone makes you a good person. The schism is that Dems don't believe that. Your actions, not your belief, make you a good person. I guess that is how some of Republicans justify some of their clearly non Christian policies. Policies dont matter. Just belief.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

@JFMcNamara  Some, certainly not most, Christians are - as HRC would say - deplorables who use their beliefs like a smokescreen to mask their deplorableness.

OTOH the folks whose only belief is that the highest power is some man-made governmental entity that redistributes wealth in the pursuit of making us all feel equal are much more dangerous.

ATLAquarius
ATLAquarius

What is a median Democrat and median Republican? The idea that the typical sitting congressman isn't far right or left is laughable....they have to survive primaries. Traditionally blue leaning areas have moved more left and traditionally red areas have moved more right where a big part of the difference is that after alot of Blue Dog Dems were voted out their district composition was changed in the South and in the Midwest there is rank gerrymandering in PA, WI, and MI even if one concedes that some of those areas were trending more Republican. There is a partisan purity battle that will be set up in 2018 in CA and also in states with a sitting GOP senator like MS....I appreciate that you have to provide perspective from the right but again the right is moving more right as well. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@ATLAquarius

Who does the navigating in your family?

The one who argues with the sign and always gets you lost, or the one who takes the direction of the sign?

Kathy
Kathy

I'd like to see our politicians 'think' with all that brainpower they brag about instead of voting the way the wind blows at the expense of citizens. I'd like to see mandatory signs in every Senator's office reminding them that they work for the citizens of this county not their friends and personal interests. And, I'd like to see a new Party for all the citizens who are sick of Party Politics running this country.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Well, these charts certainly show why so many conservatives lean heavily on religious beliefs to help them sleep at night.

If I was that evil of a person in my heart, I would seek help in God too.

breckenridge
breckenridge

In a meeting in July, Donald Trump told his national security team he wanted a huge increase in the number of  nuclear weapons the US has.  Despite whatever treaties such an increase might violate.  Which prompted Rex Tillerson to call Trump a moron.


Trump has no clue at all.  He is unfit to serve as president.

sim_namore
sim_namore

The Republican party has fully embraced fascism.   They've been moving in that direction for decades--now, they're on a dead run.

Doomy
Doomy

@sim_namore


The Republicans embraced fascism and its state control of the means of production? Really? By all means- please enlighten us as to what specific actions occurred that turned us into a fascist state. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@sim_namore

Several bedrocks of the current Dims are directly traceable to fascism.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

In Bookman's latest rant he sounds like he's borderline advocating for an insurrection. Maybe soon he'll write a piece praising antifa.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@SGTGrit You mean an insurrection as proposed by the right during President Obama's time in office? My , cons have a short memory, if one at all!

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@RoadScholar @SGTGrit 

Obama was criticized for his policies. Obama was never personally attacked anywhere near the way Trump, is being attacked by the media and by far-left Democrats along with some never Trumpers within the Republican party. Many including myself who support his policies are not particularly pleased with some of his retaliatory behavior but the personal attacks and false news reporting about this sitting president is far over the top.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@SGTGrit @RoadScholar "Obama was never personally attacked anywhere


Huh.  I recall him being lied about pretty continuously by calling him "Muslim" "Hussein", and "not an American" even though all evidence points to a Christian American who has stronger ties to Muslims than any other American President. 

But those items were continuously used as racist dog whistles to racist Americans. 

Doomy
Doomy

@SGTGrit


Jay went kook left crazy well over a year or so ago. When the R primaries started Jay started his rants against Trump. Bruno predicted an over/under of Jay doing at least 70 rants just on Trump in one year alone. Jay blew that over number out of the water. But he still has his hardcore support group of about 10 kooks who hang on his every word like flies on buffalo dung. It's an echo chamber of pure nuts over there. 

Doomy
Doomy

@RoadScholar @SGTGrit


If you could show where multiple R politicians were calling for Obama's impeachment not even 90 days into his presidency you would have a point. But you can't. So you don't.

Doomy
Doomy

@Ychromosome @Doomy @SGTGrit


And that Congressman was proven correct later on. After all, Obama clearly did LIE when he stated that "you can keep your doctor" and "you can keep your health plan if you like it".  What he did was classless in yelling that out during the SOTU. But the bottom line is that Obama proved him right. Obama was lying. 

lusawo
lusawo

This appears to be a generational shift, meaning it probably isn’t changing dramatically anytime soon. It’s one reason expecting the legislative process to produce a durable, bipartisan answer on today’s thorniest issues — and Pew didn’t even ask about health care directly — is probably wishful thinking.

The answer, as I’ve suggested when it comes to health care, isn’t to try to force the prevailing party’s solution on everyone else — only for the other party to try to move sharply in the other direction when it comes to power. It’s to devolve as much of this decision-making as possible to lower levels of government, where the stakes aren’t as high and more political consensus exists. That’s why, to those who are truly interested in how we can possibly navigate such choppy political waters, I can’t recommend Yuval Levin’s “The Fractured Republic” highly enough. The question going forward isn’t how we move back to the middle, but how we govern anyway.

Ychromosome
Ychromosome

Years ago, the "middle" believed that Adam was the first man and the earth was 6000 years ago. Back then, the "middle" believed the advertisements saying that smoking was good for your health. Decades ago, the "middle" believed that flies were spontaneously generated from garbage and that sickness was caused by evil spells. The "middle" believed that man's activities couldn't affect the environment. They believed you could pray away the gay. There was a time that the "middle" believed the earth was the center of the universe. They'd tell you God wanted men to own other men, perhaps even informing you that those owned weren't really human. Many in the "middle" believed that the King James Version of the Bible was the inerrant word of God and anyone who disagreed was a heretic. The "middle" had such interesting and quaint ideas, but never fear. There is a group called "conservatives" who, as their title suggests, are against change. They're trying to keep the old ideas alive. After all, history has regressed before. Just look at the Dark Ages. We can go back to what the "middle" wants if we just get enough people to support ignorance and superstition instead of enlightenment.

Starik
Starik

@Ychromosome  Before Vietnam there was consensus in the country about what we were supposed to be. Not any more. Moderation rejects the extremes, and where the central moderate position is changes with the passage of time. 

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@Starik @Ychromosome Shouldn't your comment read "the extremes reject the moderation", the same moderation that is the majority of Americans? Change over time? Isn't that called evolution?

Doomy
Doomy

@Ychromosome


"There is a group called "conservatives" who, as their title suggests, are against change. They're trying to keep the old ideas alive"


Resistant to change? LOL! It's the Dems who are the ones resistant to reforming the education system with more choice, resistant to entitlement reform, resistant to regulatory reform, and on and on. Rather than reform and change it's the Dems who prefer to not change any of the broken systems we have in place.