WASHINGTON – With 2020 primary contests now underway, new findings from a recent study show Republican and Democratic voters are still very polarized.
President Donald Trump and some of his main campaign themes, such as immigration, are some of the top issues that separate Republicans and Democrats nationwide.
The findings are part of the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape project, a large-scale study of the American electorate. Throughout the 2020 election cycle, the researchers aim to conduct 500,000 interviews about both policies and the presidential candidates.
Between Jan. 9 and Feb. 13, 31,508 interviews were conducted for the project. The margin of error is plus or minus 1 percentage point.
According to the findings, Democrats and Republicans remain split on policies such as health care and building a wall along the U.S. southern border. However, voters in both parties share common ground on a handful of issues.
Americans agree on gun background checks and middle class tax cuts, disagree on immigration
Gun control has been a contentious issue on Capitol Hill and across the country in the wake of many high-profile mass shootings in recent years. Democrats have generally advocated for expanding background checks. Republicans lawmakers, however, have instead generally advocated for red flag laws, which take guns away from those deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others.
But voters aren’t necessarily aligned with their partisan officials in Washington, D.C., according to the Nationscape research. A vast majority of both Republicans, 84%, and Democrats, 92%, support background checks for all gun purchases. Only 4% of Democrats said they opposed background checks and only 10% of Republicans said they opposed them, making it one of the issues that had overwhelming bipartisan support.
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However, the two parties are split on other other key issues surrounding gun control, such as banning assault rifles and limiting magazine capacity, according to the project’s. findings.
Republicans and Democrats stand on common ground when it comes to tax cuts for families not making six-figures.
According to the study, 79% of Democrats agree with cutting taxes for families that make less than $100,000 per year, while 10% disagree. Among Republicans, 70% agreed, while 18% disagreed.
When it comes to one of Trump’s key campaign issues, immigration, there isn’t much bipartisan support.
Only 13% of Democrats believe that a wall should be built on the U.S.-Mexico border, with a whopping 73% of Democrats opposing the idea. On the Republican side, however, it’s almost the complete opposite, with 70% of Republicans in support of building a wall and 18% opposing it. Trump has made building the wall a priority of his presidency.
When it comes to deporting all undocumented immigrants, a majority of Republicans, 56%, support it, while 26% oppose it. Among Democrats, 18% agree with the policy, while 64% oppose it.
Views on President Trump are very polarized
Throughout his presidency, Trump has polarized the country at times with a variety of policies and comments. The project’s findings are no different.
Only 13% of Democrats view Trump very or somewhat favorably, while 86% of Democratic voters view Trump very or somewhat unfavorably.
Comparatively, an overwhelming number of Republican voters, 81%, view Trump very or somewhat favorably. Only 16% view him somewhat or very unfavorably.
Independents do not view the president as favorably as Republicans, but also do not view him as unfavorably as Democrats. Among independent voters, 32% view Trump very or somewhat favorably, while 48% view him very or somewhat unfavorably.
Overall, 42% of voters view Trump very or somewhat favorably, while 52% view him somewhat or very unfavorably.
Democratic candidates’ favorability falls along partisan lines
Support for the top Democratic presidential nominees is also split along partisan lines.
Overall, Democrats largely view Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg favorably.
Don’t have a lot of time?: Find FAQs on the key issues and where the candidates stand
Sanders was viewed the most favorably among Democratic voters, with 76% viewing him very or somewhat favorably. Among independents, a combined 34% viewed him favorably, while a combined 21% of Republicans viewed him favorably. Among all voters, 48% viewed Sanders very or somewhat favorably. But 41% of all voters viewed him somewhat or very unfavorably.
Biden followed Sanders among Democrats, with 68% of Democrats viewing him very or somewhat favorably. Among Republicans, 21% of Republicans and 31% of independents viewed Biden very or somewhat favorably. Among all voters, an equal number, 44%,viewed him very or somewhat favorably and very or somewhat unfavorably.
Warren came next, with 64% of Democrats finding her very or somewhat favorable. She is at 21% with independents and 16% with Republicans who view her very or somewhat favorably. Among all voters, 39% view Warren very or somewhat favorably, while a combined 39% view her unfavorably.
Buttigieg is next among Democratic voters, with 60% viewing him very or somewhat favorably. His combined favorability is at 22% with independents and 23% with Republicans. Among all voters, Buttigieg had some of the lowest numbers of those who view him favorably or unfavorably. Among all voters, 39% viewed him very or somewhat favorably, and at 29% viewed him very or somewhat unfavorably. However, he also had the largest number, 31%, of voters who said they had not yet heard enough about him.
Democratic candidates’ supporters agree on most topics, with some exceptions
Voters backing each of those four Democratic candidates, as well as supporters of Michael Bloomberg, mostly align with one another in terms of supporting the same policies, such as tax cuts for lower-income families.
Among Buttigieg supporters, 79% agree with cutting taxes for lower-income families, while 80% of Bloomberg, Sanders, and Warren supporters, respectively, agree with the policy. Among Biden supporters, 82% agree with the policy.
Supporters are also overwhelmingly opposed to some of the same policies, such as separating children from their parents in cases involving illegal border crossings.
Yet despite their shared support of Democratic candidates, those voters don’t agree on everything.
Buttigieg supporters show less support for reparations — only 25% agree with the policy — than Biden, Bloomberg, Sanders, and Warren supporters. Bloomberg supporters followed at 30% in agreement. Forty-seven percent of Warren backers agree with the policy, while 41% of Sanders supporters and 40% of Biden supporters do.
When it comes to Sanders’ signature policy, Medicare for All, supporters of the five candidates are divided, though the majority of each candidates’ supporters agree with the policy.
Buttigieg supporters show the smallest majority support for Medicare for All, with 55% agreeing with the policy. Bloomberg supporters follow at 57% who agree with the policy, then Biden supporters at 58%. Comparatively, 67% of warren supporters back Medicare for All and a whopping 83% of Sanders’ supporters back the Vermont senator’s top issue.
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