News and Commentary

Study: What Direction Do Republicans, Democrats Want Their Parties To Move?

A new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults found that a majority from both sides of the aisle want their political party to move in the same direction — to the right. A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaners want their party to move in a more conservative direction, while a majority of Democrats and Democrat-leaners want their party to embrace a more moderate agenda.

The study of 1,505 adults (+/-3 margin of error) asked respondents a range of questions, including what they believe should be the top priorities for the president and congress (the economy, as usual, topped the list, followed closely by health care costs, education, combating terrorism, Social Security and Medicare) and how much confidence they had in the increasingly polarized parties working together (not much, it turns out).

But one particularly interesting take-away highlighted by Pew in a social media post promoting the survey is the direction supporters of the two parties want those to parties to move in the future. Both, it turns out, want them to move in the same direction, though not necessarily to same results. “Most Republicans want to see their party move in a more conservative direction,” Pew tweeted Sunday. “53% of Democrats want the party to move in a more moderate direction while 40% favor a more liberal direction.”

“Looking ahead, most Republicans want to see their party move in a more conservative direction,” Pew reports. “Nearly six-in-ten Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters (58%) say they want the GOP to move in a more conservative direction, compared with 38% who want it to move in a more moderate direction.”

That desire to embrace a more conservative agenda, Pew notes, is “about the same” as it’s been “following other recent midterm and presidential elections.”

But the Democrats’ views are perhaps a little surprising given the popularity of some of the fresh faces of the party, particularly Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose self-described “democratic socialist” ideology is radical left.

“Among Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters, somewhat more say they want the Democratic Party to move in a more moderate (53%) than more liberal (40%) direction,” Pew reports.

This signifies a shift — not dramatic but still notable — following the presidential election. In November 2016, Pew notes, 49% of Democrats, a plurality, wanted the party to become more liberal. The current majority call for a more moderate party aligns closely with the view of most Democrats following the 2014 midterms.

As for the popularity of the two parties, neither party managed to get majority favorability, though the Democrats came a little closer to it: 49% viewed the Democrats in a positive light (47% negative), which is slightly worse than back in September when the party enjoyed 53% favorability.

Republicans managed only a 42% favorability (54% unfavorable). Pew points out that views of the Republican Party have generally fallen about the same over the years.

Read the full results of Pew’s survey here.

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