Events - 2014

Pew Research Center Survey Finds Deepening Partisan Divide

    Release Date: 6/12/2014

    Abt SRBI Manages Data Collection and New Trends Panel

    The partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats is deeper than at any point in the last twenty five years, according to a new Pew Research Center nationwide survey  of over 10,000 adults– the largest survey the Center has ever conducted.

    The report finds that the increasingly heated partisan rancor in Washington seems to be a reflection of the growing polarization on Main Street. Moreover, these divisions are greatest among those who are the most engaged and active in the political process – those more likely to participate in the political process, more likely to vote, and more likely to donate money to candidates.

    Abt SRBI conducted all interviewing for this study in two waves. Interviews for the initial survey of over 10,000 adults were conducted by landline and cell phones between January 23 - March 16, 2014. Data from a second survey, conducted March 19 – April 29, utilizing the newly created American Trends Panel, an impaneled subset of the first survey, is also included. This report is the first of a Pew Research Center multi-part series on America’s polarized political landscape.  

    Key findings from the Pew Research Center Report are:

    • The number of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions has doubled over the past two decades, from 10% to 21%. As a result, the amount of ideological overlap between the two parties has diminished.
    • The share of Republicans who have very unfavorable opinions of the Democratic Party has jumped from 17% to 43% in the last 20 years. Similarly, the share of Democrats with very negative opinions of the Republican Party also has more than doubled, from 16% to 38%. But these numbers tell only part of the story.
    • Among Republicans and Democrats who have a very unfavorable impression of the other party, the vast majority say the opposing party’s policies represent a threat to the nation’s well-being.
    • Political compromise has become more difficult. About six-in-ten across-the-board liberals (62%) say the optimal deal between President Barack Obama and the GOP should be closer to what Obama wants. About as many consistent conservatives (57%) say an agreement should be more on the GOP’s terms.

    The partisan divide affects more than just politics. In everyday life:
    • Three-quarters of consistent conservatives say they would opt to live in a community where “the houses are larger and farther apart, but schools, stores and restaurants are several miles away,” while 77% of consistent liberals prefer smaller houses closer to amenities.
    • Nearly four times as many liberals as conservatives say it is important that their community has racial and ethnic diversity; about three times as many conservatives as liberals say it is important that many in the community share their religious faith.

    The survey does find that these sentiments are not shared by all – or even most – Americans. The majority do not have uniformly conservative or liberal views. Most do not see either party as a threat to the nation.

    The complete Pew Research Center Political Polarization in the American Public report will be found at:

    About the Data

    The data in this report are based on two independent survey administrations with the same randomly selected, nationally representative group of respondents. The first is the Pew Center’s largest survey on domestic politics to date: the 2014 Political Polarization and Typology Survey, a national telephone survey of 10,013 adults, on landlines and cell phones, from January through March of this year. Approximate sample error for the full sample is plus or minus 1.1 percentage point.

    The second survey involved impaneling a subset of these respondents into the newly created American Trends Panel and following up with them via a survey conducted by web and telephone. The panel, managed by Abt SRBI, is a nationally representative sample of randomly selected U.S. adults living in households. Respondents who self-identify as internet users (representing 89% of U.S. adults) participate in the panel via monthly self-administered Web surveys, and those who do not use the internet participate via telephone or mail. Panel interviews were conducted March 19-April 29, 2014 among 3,308 respondents (2,901 by Web and 407 by phone). Approximate sampling error for the full sample of 3,308 respondents is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

    About Abt SRBI

    Abt SRBI, a leading public policy and market research organization, is a subsidiary of Abt Associates, a mission-driven, global leader in research and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Abt SRBI specializes in government and public policy, public opinion, banking and finance, consumer products/services, media, telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and health care research. Abt SRBI is headquartered in New York City, with offices in the Washington, D.C. area, Chicago, IL, Cambridge, MA, Fort Myers, FL, Durham, NC and other cities.

    Caroline Broder
    (301) 347-5792