Given the way politics is covered these days many Americans might conclude that the widening gap is the result of Republicans becoming more extreme in their views. That is after all the mantra so often repeated by the Democrats and the now-regarded as liberal mainstream press. The GOP is the party of racist sexist xenophobic right-wing extremists we hear over and over again. Democrats are but humble centrists.
The Pew Report and data however make it clear that the shift toward the extreme has happened among Democrats not Republicans.
This can be seen in dramatic fashion when you look at where the center of each party was in 1994 and where it is today.Pew used a 10-item scale of political values to determine ideological purity among those who claim affiliation with the two parties. The results show that while the Republican center moved only slightly to the right over the past 23 years the center of Democratic part shifted far to the left. (See chart.) Take a look at specific value questions Pew asks and you can see why. Pew asks for example whether poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return. In 1994 63 of Republicans agreed with this sentiment as did 44 of Democrats. This year 65 of Republicans agreed a 2-point increase while just 18 of Democrats did a 26-point drop.
And while nearly two-thirds (65) of Democrats used to believe that most people who want to get ahead can do so if they work hard today just 45 of Democrats believe this. Among Republicans the change was negligible moving from 73 in 1994 to 77 today. How about the question of whether racial discrimination is the main reason many black people cant get ahead these days? In 1994 just 39 of Democrats and 26 of Republicans felt this way. That was 14 years before the U.S. elected a black president. Now after eight years of Obama in the White House 64 of Democrats say racism is the main reason blacks cant get ahead while 14 of Republicans do.National defense? Back in 1994 44 of Republicans said the best way to secure peace was through military strength. Today that figure is 53 an increase of 9 points. But on the Democratic side the share who agreed with peace through strength dropped from 28 to 13 a 15-point drop. Pew also asked whether corporations make too much profit. In 1994 the gap between Democrats and Republicans on this issue was 18. Today its 30. In this case the entire increase in the gap came from Democrats. While 61 of them said in 1994 that corporations make too much money 73 now feel that way. Theres been no change on the Republicans side its remained at 43. One issue where Republicans shifted further out to the edge than Democrats was on whether environmental laws and regulations cost too many jobs and hurt the economy. But on one big social issue Republicans have become far more moderate over the years. The Pew survey asks whether homosexuality should be discouraged by society. In 1994 58 of Republicans and 42 of Democrats said it should. By 2017 the share of Republicans who felt that way dropped 21 points in tandem with the decline among Democrats. Of course if you want to see how extreme Democrats have become all you need to do is look at who is now considered the soul of the party far-left liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren or the fact that a substantial number of Democratic lawmakers have signed onto Bernie Sanders radical Medicare for all plan. Meanwhile conservatives couldnt even muster a majority of Republicans in the Senate to repeal ObamaCare. Democrats and their water carriers in the press are like people on a boat that is drifting off to sea but are convinced that its the land thats moving not them.