Ahead of the traditional Labor Day 2020 presidential election kick-off, we conducted the first in a planned biannual Hoover poll with a random sample of approximately 2,000 respondents. In addition to election-related issues, the survey examines three main themes: government power and freedom; social and environmental justice; and populism. The answers given below are weighted to reflect the average population.
Government power against freedom
Assessment of the degree to which Americans value personal freedom over governance reveals fundamental differences between Republicans and Democrats. Back to the New Deal, this fault line reflects the philosophical differences between the parties, particularly on issues related to government intervention in the economy. Table 1 shows that preferences for state intervention still divide parties deeply.
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For example, 69% of Democrats are in favor of controlling rent while only 38% of Republicans are in favor. Republicans also oppose a carbon tax (71%) by raising the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour (52%) and guaranteeing an annual income of $ 12,000 (57%). On each of these questions, the Democrats went the other way: 66% supported a carbon tax, 81% supported a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour, and 62% supported the guaranteed income of $ 12,000. These differences also exist on other issues such as a flat tax and the level of government regulations.
Regarding the possibly culminating point regarding government and the economy, a mere majority of Democrats (51%) who expressed an opinion preferred socialism, while only 8% of Republicans said so.
Table 2 shows that the same dichotomy exists in relation to questions of personal freedom. Almost three quarters of Republicans consider political correctness a major problem in the US, while only a third of Democrats agree.
90 percent of Democrats agreed it was the only way to stop the spread of COVID-19, while 55% of Republicans believed politics was worse than the cure. Republicans versus Democrats with a margin of 61% to 14%, keeping the status quo or lowering gun ownership restrictions.
The main exception to the dimension of freedom of choice concerns the problem one would expect – abortion. About 70% of Democrats say abortion should either be legal with minor exceptions or always legal. In contrast, about two-thirds of Republicans believe that abortion should only be legal in special circumstances (to save the mother’s life) or never. This exception to the rule can be attributed in part to differences between the parties in relation to religious practices, with Republicans being more vigilant than Democrats and often belonging to anti-abortion churches. (Additionally, Republicans identified more than 2: 1 against Democrats as born-again Christians.)
An interesting side effect of Donald Trump bringing non-college voters into the GOP group (“I love the poorly educated!”) Is that the party’s view of raising taxes on the rich has changed. Today Republicans are evenly divided on the tax hike. 54% say the tax system is unfair. The number of GOP identifiers with a college degree and / or postgraduate degree has dropped from 40% a little over a decade ago to 31%. (In the Democratic Party, that number has remained pretty stable, currently standing at 38%.)
The move into the republican camp of white, less educated workers has shifted traditional republican positions on other economic issues as well. This is in part because older, white, less educated voters entered the GOP column: More Republicans receive social security, unemployment insurance, grocery stamps and disability insurance than those who identify with the Democratic Party.
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The Hoover poll also includes data on how Americans feel about racial justice, climate change, migrant laws, sexual orientation, the removal of statues from previous icons, positive action, and other issues. In many cases the typical partisan difference ranges from issues such as social justice to climate problems.
Democrats advocate positive action for college admission, the removal of Confederate generals’ statues, a guaranteed annual income that allows illegal immigrants to stay in the US and apply for citizenship, and believe that the US economic system favors the rich . On each of these issues, Republicans are on the other side, as Table 3 shows.
In some areas, the majorities of both parties still have something in common. For example, Americans from both parties agree that people should be able to work part-time without full health and safety, that state and local governments can restrict the right to protest, and that they prefer members of Congress who are willing to compromise. Perhaps most tellingly, the majority of both parties say they would rather be citizens of the United States than any other country (86% Republicans and 54% Democrats).
The third topic of the poll, populism, is not unique to the US. France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Argentina are other countries with populist movements and political parties. Populism is defined as the belief that there is a “people” and an elite sector who have misled the people through poor governance, and that the problem of government will be solved if the “people” can make decisions.
Table 4 shows that Democrats and Republicans share multiple populist views, with independents generally expressing populist views at least as often as Republicans and sometimes more often than members of one of the major parties. For example, the majority of both parties believe that politicians lie most or all of the time about what they will do if they are elected.
Table 5 shows that trust in institutions is also low. The only American institutions that get a 60% confidence rate are the police and the military. The judiciary, churches, local and state governments as well as public schools have a confidence level of slightly more than 50%. Congress, business and the media have less than 40% approval. The confidence of the independents in institutions vis-à-vis members of the two major parties reflects the relative prevalence of populist views.
However, democratic and republican populists have different views on several issues. Over 80% of Democrats are in favor of stricter gun laws, including banning the sale of automatic weapons, and solid majorities are in favor of abortion rights, government action against climate change, tax increases for families with incomes above $ 250,000, and the legalization of marijuana. All of these and other issues separate republican and democratic populists significantly. The left and right versions of populism have entered US politics and will play a role in shaping the politics and politics of the two major parties through the electoral process. Subsequent Hoover polls will be a useful tool for tracking the various aspects of populism, both left and right.
Overall, the results of our survey show that there are large differences between political parties that will make it difficult for the newly elected president to achieve unity. On the other hand, the majorities of both parties indicate that they prefer representatives who compromise in politics and would rather be Americans than citizens of another country. Future polls will let us know if we are making progress towards unity.
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