Study Finds Deep Internal Divisions in Both Political Parties

(CN) – Not only are Americans in general politically polarized, but sharp divides are also evident within Republican and Democratic circles on hot-button social and economic issues like immigration and America’s role in the world, according to a Pew Research Center report released Tuesday.

Pew found that Republicans generally approve of President Donald Trump nearly a year after his election, but disagree on many other issues including immigration and whether homosexuality should be discouraged by society.

The Democratic coalition is equally as internally divided over government regulation of business and the fundamental fairness of the U.S. economic system, according to the study, and both GOP and Democratic bases disagree on America’s role in the world.

The 153-page Pew report, based on a survey of more than 5,000 Americans conducted over the summer, classified the public into eight political groups – four largely Republican groups and four largely Democratic groups – along with a ninth group of less politically engaged Americas, referred to as “bystanders.”

“Core conservatives” on the right and “solid liberals” on the left outnumbered the other groups in Pew’s political typology – which sorts Americans into cohesive groups based on their values, attitudes and party affiliation – and made up an even larger share of their partisan coalitions when political engagement is factored in, according to the report.

Researchers found that the values differences between the two major U.S. political parties are wider than at any other time in recent decades.

“The political typology reveals that even in a political landscape increasingly fractured by partisanship, the divisions within the Republican and Democratic coalitions may be as important a factor in American politics as the divisions between them,” the report states. (Emphasis in original.)

Core conservatives, considered to be the most traditional group of Republicans, generally agree that the government can’t afford to do more to help needy Americas, and 80 percent say blacks who can’t get ahead are responsible for their own condition.

“Country first conservatives,” a much smaller segment of the GOP base, are older and less educated than other Republican-leaning typology groups. And unlike core conservatives, they “are unhappy with the nation’s course, highly critical of immigrants and deeply wary of U.S. global involvement,” according to the Pew report.

Nearly two-thirds of country first conservatives – 64 percent, the highest share of any left or right typology group – say that “if America is too open to people from all over the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation.”

While the Democratic base is largely united in staunch opposition to President Trump, the political energy is not as evident beyond the party’s sizable liberal bloc, researchers found.

Thirty-nine percent of solid liberals reported that they have participated in a protest against Trump’s policies and nearly half – 49 percent – say they have contributed money to a political candidate or campaign in the past year.

Although they all strongly support the social safety net, the Democratic-leaning groups are divided on government performance more generally and whether it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values.

While both parties are divided internally, partisanship remains a defining feature of American political life, according to the report. Both ends of the political spectrum are already highly energized by a battle for congressional control, with the 2018 midterm elections a little more than a year away.

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