Centrism has emerged as a dominant factor in public opinion as the Obama administration begins. Republicans and Democrats are even more divided than in the past, while the growing political middle is steadfastly mixed in its beliefs about government, the free market and other values that underlie views on contemporary issues and policies. Both political parties have lost adherents since the election and an increasing number of Americans identify as independents.
The Republican Party has continued to lose adherents in 2009. In combined surveys since the start of the year, fewer than a quarter (23%) of Americans identify as Republicans. In total, the GOP has lost roughly a quarter of its base over the past five years. But these losses have not translated into substantial Democratic gains.
The current Democratic favorability advantage is the largest measured in nearly two decades. Even among white evangelical Protestants, loyal supporters of the Republican Party, opinions about the two parties are about even.
A new survey finds that voters expect that the level of public engagement they experienced with Obama during the campaign, much of it occurring online, will continue into the early period of his new administration.
Still, ideological labels don’t always predict policy opinions; e.g.,about half of self-described conservatives say that all or some of the Bush tax cuts should be repealed while many liberals support off-shore drilling.
Hispanics voted for Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden over Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin by a margin of more than two-to-one according to an analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of exit polls, with Latino youth supporting the Democratic ticket by an even wider margin.
The proportion of voters identifying with the Democratic Party has grown significantly since the 2004 election, and the shift has been particularly dramatic among younger voters.
As shown in a series of charts, the Democratic Party now holds an advantage in several swing states, has increased its advantage in several "blue" states and cut into the GOP's lead in some "red" states since the last presidential campaign.
Unlike in the rest of the country, the Latino vote in the Sunshine State has tended to be heavily Republican; but changing politics and demographics have produced a substantial shift in electoral rolls.
As the 2008 conventions approach, the Democratic Party’s advantage in party identification remains as large as it has been over the past two decades, and the Democratic Party’s image remains substantially more positive than the GOP’s.