Conservative political Parties


Most Americans can correctly identify the relative positions of the Republican and Democratic parties on the major issues of the day. But a review of what Americans know about the political parties shows that the public is better informed about the partisan affiliations of two popular recent presidents – Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton – than it is about the positions of the parties on key issues that dominate the current national debate.

About seven-in-ten (71%) know that the Republican Party is considered to be the more conservative party. And majorities can correctly place the parties relative to each other on current issues that define the liberal-conservative divide, such as taxes, gay rights, abortion, and defense spending.

But the latest News IQ survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 29-April 1 among 1, 000 adults, finds considerable variance in what the public knows about the parties. While 67% correctly identify the Democratic Party as more supportive of raising taxes on higher-income people to reduce the budget deficit, far fewer (53%) identify the Republican Party as more in favor of reducing the size and scope of government.

While there is some confusion over the parties’ ideological and issue positions, two recent political figures are clearly identified with their respective parties. Overall, 85% of the public knows that Reagan was a Republican, while virtually the same percentage (84%) knows that Clinton is a Democrat.

Nearly as many (78%) correctly identify John F. Kennedy as a Democrat. But Americans are less familiar with the partisan affiliations of earlier presidents and current congressional leaders. Roughly six-in-ten (58%) know that Franklin Roosevelt was a Democrat, while 55% correctly identify Abraham Lincoln as a Republican. Comparable majorities know that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is a Democrat (61%) and House Speaker John Boehner is a Republican (55%).

Two other items on the poll asked about the parties’ nicknames and symbols. Nearly seven-in-ten respondents (68%) correctly said that the initials “G-O-P” are usually associated with the Republican Party. And 65% correctly noted that the Democratic Party uses the donkey as its mascot or symbol.

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