Americans are increasingly divided along political lines, a new survey finds.
According to the Pew Research Center survey of more than 5,000 American adults, division “reached record levels” during the Obama administration and have continued to grow during the first nine months of the Trump administration. Pew has been conducting the survey since 1994.
“Partisan divides across political values … [are] wider than at any point in the past,” Jocelyn Kiley, the associate director for research at the Pew Research Center told Politico.
The divisions cover nearly every issue, including the size of government, race relations, national security and the environment. Pew added these divisions “dwarf” divisions along gender, race, education or religion.
When asked about the role the government has in providing aid to the needy, Pew found that during the past six years, the percentage of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents grew by 17 percentage points from 54 percent to 71 percent. On the Republican side, there has been little change with 25 percent agreeing compared to 24 percent six years ago. Pew added the Republican movement came between 2007 and 2011 when it fell from 45 percent to 25 percent.
One of the largest gaps between Democrats and Republicans was over race, particularly if racial discrimination was a reason “blacks cannot get ahead.” A huge percent of Democrat/Democrat-leaners, 64 percent, agreed, while only 14 percent of Republican/Republican-leaners. Just 8 years ago, the gap was only 19 percentage points.
On the question of whether “immigrants strengthen the country,” 84 percent of Democrats agree versus 42 percent of Republicans. Again, the major move was on the Democratic side, Pew said, citing only 32 percent of Democrats agreed in 1994.
When it comes to national security and how best to maintain it, Democrats tend to think diplomacy is the best option, while Republicans think military strength ensures peace. For Democrats, 83 percent said diplomacy was the best route, and only 33 percent of Republicans agreed.
“Across 10 measures that Pew Research Center has tracked on the same surveys since 1994, the average partisan gap has increased from 15 percentage points to 36 points,” Pew wrote.
“Two decades ago, the average partisan differences on these items were only somewhat wider than differences by religious attendance or educational attainment and about as wide as the differences between blacks and whites (14 points, on average). Today, the party divide is much wider than any of these demographic differences.”
In other findings, Pew found the percentage of people from each side voicing “very unfavorable” views of the other side increased “dramatically” in the 1990s, but has been relatively stable. Forty-four percent of Democrats said that about Republicans, while 45 percent of Republicans said that about Democrats.
There is even division about the size of houses. For Republicans, 65 percent prefer larger homes that are further apart while 61 percent of Democrats prefer smaller homes within walking distance of schools and shopping
Democrats and Republicans are also divided on what can make the country successful, with 68 percent of Democrats saying it’s the “ability to change,” while 61 percent of Republicans said it was “reliance on principles.”