As the Democratic party prepares for a crowded 2020 presidential primary, new research shows a dramatic shift in demographics and values espoused by its members. A Gallup report released Tuesday shows the party has grown more educated, less religious and less white since 2001.
The research indicates liberal issues like same-sex marriage, unrestricted abortion, marijuana legalization and socialized health care have become more mainstream among party members over the years. Interestingly, this shift has been driven primarily by college-educated white Democrats, even though the party as a whole has seen a rise in the percentage of nonwhite members — jumping from 31 percent in 2001-2006 to 43 percent in 2013-2018.
Since 2013, 54 percent of white Democrats have identified themselves as “liberal,” as opposed to conservative or moderate, jumping 20 points from 2001-2006. In the same time period, the percentage of nonwhite liberal Democrats grew by 8 and 9 points among blacks and Hispanics, respectively.
The connection between education and liberal ideology is unmistakable. According to Gallup, the percentage of Democrats with college degrees has risen from 27 percent in 2001-2006 to 35 percent in 2013-2018. Among these college-educated groups, the percentage that identify as liberal has climbed 16 points from 2001-2006 to 2013-2018. For Democrats with post-graduate degrees, liberal identification has jumped 13 points. Though less pronounced, liberalism is also on the rise among Democrats with some college education (12 points) and those with no college education (10 percent).
Another notable finding is the decrease in religious identification among Democrats. The percentage of Democrats who cite having no religion has doubled between 2001-2006 and 2013-2018 — from 10 percent to 20 percent. The portion of Democrats identifying as Christian has fallen 12 points to 70 percent in the same time frame.
Key areas of contention between liberal and conservative Democrats include abortion, embryonic stem cell research, the death penalty, euthanasia, defense spending, government-run healthcare, same-sex marriage, legalization of marijuana and the impact of global warming, according to Gallup.
“Solid majorities of liberal Democrats, versus less than half of conservative Democrats, hold the traditionally liberal positions on these issues,” the report notes.
Despite the divergent views of conservative and liberal Democrats, the report notes a “grand unifier” between the two group: President Donald Trump. Last year, an average of 82 percent of conservative Democrats, 91 percent of moderate Democrats and 96 percent of liberal Democrats disapproved of the job Trump was doing as president.
“That suggests few Democrats would back Trump in 2020, even if their party lurches far to the left,” the report noted.
To view the entire report, click here.