Aug 7, 2023 - Politics & Policy

America's deepest partisan divides are getting deeper

Data: Gallup; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios
Data: Gallup; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

The role of government power is one of the biggest issues where Democrats and Republicans are drifting further and further apart, according to new Gallup polling.

Why it matters: Others are immigration, climate and guns — all topics where any kind of consensus looks ever more elusive.

By the numbers: In 2003, there was an 11-point difference in the percentage of Republicans and Democrats who said immigration should be decreased. That gap in 2023 is 40 points.

  • Republicans have become less worried about global warming over the last 20 years, while Democrats have become significantly more worried.
  • Republicans were slightly less likely than Democrats to say that the federal government had too much power in 2003, in the aftermath of 9/11. But now, nearly three-quarters of Republicans agree with that statement, versus only 31% of Democrats.
  • The percentage of Republicans who say abortion should be legal under any circumstance has stayed about the same since 2003, while the share of Democrats who hold that view has shot up from 32% to 59%.

Between the lines: In some cases — at least over the last decade — the parties' opinions have moved in the same direction, albeit often at different paces and from much different starting positions.

  • The number of Republicans who said the government should ensure everyone has health care plunged between 2003 and 2013, which was right after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. It's crept back up since then, but there's still a 55-point gap between the parties.
  • A similar trend occurred among Republicans who said gun laws should be stricter.
  • Both parties have lost confidence in the police — although the drop is much more drastic among Democrats.

What they're saying: "This confirms the fundamental foundation for any analysis of U.S. politics — the fact that individuals' political identity is highly correlated with their views of social and policy issues, resulting in substantial differences in how issues are viewed across political segments," Gallup's polling analysis concludes.

  • "This in turn reflects the fact that the two major political parties have staked out widely differing positions on the types of issues included in this analysis."
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