Divisions Between Democrats and GOP on Political Values Wider Than Ever


The partisan divide on political values, such as government, national security, race, immigration, and environmental protection, reached record levels when Barack Obama was in the White House. Since Donald Trump has stepped into the Oval Office, that political divide has grown wider. Not only that, but these differences are significantly greater than divisions surrounding gender, race, religion, and education.

Over the last six years, the number of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who believe the government should do more to help the needs, even at the risk of taking on more debt, has increased 17 percentage points, from 54% to 71%. Republicans, meanwhile, have not shifted in their views, falling slightly to 24% from 25%.

Over the last number of years, the views on racial discrimination for likely Democratic voters has changed. Today, 41% of Americans believe racial discrimination is the main reason why the black community cannot get ahead. This represents the largest percent going back 23 years. That said, a growing number of Americans (49%) believe blacks who do not get ahead are personally responsible for where they are at.


In 1994, when the racial discrimination question was first asked, the gap in opinions between Democrats and Republicans was 13 points. In 2009, the partisan divide increased to 19 points. Today, the gap has expanded to 50 points.

When it comes to immigration, 65% of Americans say they help strengthen the country because of “their hard work and talents.” A little more than a quarter of voters (26%) say immigrants are a burden because “they take our jobs, housing, and health care.”

The number of Democratic voters who believe immigrants strengthen the U.S. has risen to 84% today from 32% in 1994. Meanwhile, 42% of Republicans think immigrants strengthen the nation. In 1994, 30% of Republicans said immigrants strengthened the country.

Opinions about national security are also widening. A full 61% of Americans believe that diplomacy is the best way to safeguard peace; 30% subscribe to the “peace through military strength” philosophy.

It all depends on which party you vote for though. Currently, 83% of likely Democrat voters and Democratic-leaning independents think good diplomacy is the best way to ensure peace. Only 33% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents hold the same view.


The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider,” Pew Research Center, October 5, 2017.