Which party is responsible for America’s partisan divide?

Interesting analysis of Pew data by hard left-leaning blogger Kevin Drum

Below is a display of political leanings by party affiliation from 1994 to 2017… roughly 25 years.

  • Dems are the blue hump; GOP is the reddish brown.
  • Scale runs from 1 (“consistently liberal”) on the left to 10 (“consistently conservative”) on the right.

A couple of takeaways…

> Back in 1994 there was a substantial overlap of the humps (the dark brown hump in the middle) … meaning that there were a lot of “moderates” (from both parties) who clustered near the non-partisan median.

> There wasn’t much change from 1994 to 2004. But, from 2004 to 2017, that overlapping hump was substantially diminished … and the overall median was pulled left.

> More specifically, blogger Drum observes that:

Back in 1994, Dems median political leaning was a 5 on the scale; GOP scored a 6 … a very narrow gap in average views.

But in 2017, Dems median political leaning was a 2 on the scale; the GOP’s median score was a 6.5 … and the partisan gap widened to 4.5 points.

What changed?

Between 1994 and 2017, the GOP’s political leaning was relatively static … the GOP median barely budged and the shape hump was similar.

Said differently, the GOP didn’t become significantly more conservative.

But, between 1994 and 2017, the Dems’ political leaning shifted left by 3 points … and the hump became became more clustered … with a noticeably more peaked shape.


In Drum’s words: “Democrats have moved significantly to the left on most hot button social issues while Republicans have moved only slightly right.”

And, his summary conclusion:

It is not conservatives who have turned American politics into a partisan culture war battle. It is liberals.”

Depending on your personal political views, that may be a good thing or a bad thing…

2 Responses to “Which party is responsible for America’s partisan divide?”

  1. Jody Wise Says:

    I can see that there was a shift left though might be missing a causal connection. What caused the shift left. It would be interesting to look at rhetoric, economic uncertainty and who it impacted most. The partisan divide doesn’t cause a partisan divide, it is a result/outcome.

  2. Deepak Gupta Says:

    I wonder how much of this is driven by Fake news ( Fox ) and Social Media companies like ( FB)

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