Pew: Republicans, Democrats See Opposing Party as More Ideological Than Their Own

According to a new national survey by Pew Research Center, Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to view the Democratic Party as “very liberal.” Likewise, more Democrats than Republicans see the Republican Party as “very conservative.”

When asked to evaluate the Democratic Party’s ideology, a majority of Republicans (55%) give the Democratic Party the most liberal rating possible on an 11-point scale (where 0 is very liberal and 10 is very conservative), Pew reports. This represents an increase of 10 percentage points since 2016 when only 45% of those polled answered the same way.

The survey found that Republicans give the GOP an ideological rating of 7.1 on the ideological scale of liberal to conservative ideology, with 10 being the most conservative and 5 being the midpoint. Democrats rate their party at 3.9.

Republicans’ views of their own party’s ideology – as well as the ideology of the Democratic Party – have changed since 2016, Pew reports. On average, Republicans now place the Republican Party further to the right on the ideological spectrum than they did two years ago. And on average, Republicans see the Democratic Party as further to the left than they did in 2016. There has been less change in Democrats’ ratings of the ideologies of both parties since then.

Overall, Americans place themselves close to the midpoint on the ideological scale, with an average rating of 5.2, Pew reports. More than half (53%) rate their own ideology between 3 and 7 on the scale, including about one-in-five (22%) rate themselves at exactly 5.

Republicans’ and Democrats’ ratings of their own ideologies are similar to ratings they give their parties. Republicans, on average, give themselves a 7.4 rating and rate the Republican Party 7.1. The average self-rating among Democrats is 3.7 on the scale and their rating of the Democratic Party is 3.9.

Among the survey’s other key findings:

Age and educational differences: Adults under 50 identify themselves to be more liberal (23%) than conservative (17%). Those 50 and older self-identify as more conservative (34%) compared to 19% who consider themselves more liberal. Adults with postgraduate degrees are more likely to rate their ideology as very liberal (34%) than very conservative (16%). Those with no college experience rate their ideology more as very conservative (32%) than very liberal (14%).

Republicans rate the Democratic Party as very liberal. While a 55% majority of Republicans rate the Democratic Party at the most liberal point on the ideological scale, independents who lean toward the Republican Party are less likely to view the Democratic Party as this ideological; 39% rate the Democratic Party at the most liberal point. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have similar ratings of the Democratic Party’s ideology.

Republican leaners rate the GOP as less conservative than do Republicans. Those who identify as Republicans are more likely than GOP leaners to view the Republican Party as conservative. While identical 11% shares of both groups give the GOP the most conservative rating of 10, Republicans on average are more likely to give the GOP a conservative score of 6 through 9 than are independents who lean Republican. There is little difference between Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents in views of the Republican Party’s ideology.

The survey was conducted July 30 to Aug. 12 among 4,581 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.4 percentage points.

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