What the Public Knows about the Political Parties

Apr 11, 2012

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.

Read the full report, What the Public Knows about the Political Parties, and take the News IQ Quiz on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press website.

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