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Republicans More Conservative Than Democrats Are Liberal

RESEARCH Public Opinion Survey by Dina Smeltz and Libby Berry
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And the ideological split between parties continues to widen, new Council polling shows.

Key Findings

  • More than two-thirds of Republicans identify as conservative (77%).
  • Just over half of Democrats identify as liberal (58%).
  • Democrats have become more liberal over time, while the proportion of Republicans who identify as conservative has held steady.

From climate change to immigration, Republicans and Democrats find themselves far apart on key issues facing the United States. How much ideological consensus is there within party supporters themselves?

"line chart showing Republican ideological leanings over time"

Meanwhile, Democrats have become more liberal over time (58% in 2022 compared to 44% in 2004), though the party is still somewhat split between ideologically liberal and moderate or conservative members (42% in 2022).

"line chart showing Democrat ideological leanings over time"

What’s clear: fewer Americans find themselves near the center of the ideological spectrum. As they continue to drift toward opposite poles, a middle ground will be even harder to find.

About the Authors
Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
Headshot for Dina Smeltz
Dina Smeltz, a polling expert, has more than 25 years of experience designing and fielding international social and political surveys. Prior to joining the Council to lead its annual survey of American attitudes on US foreign policy, she served in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the US State Department's Office of Research from 1992 to 2008.
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Communications Officer
headshot of Libby Berry
As the communications officer for the Lester Crown Center, Libby Berry works to connect audiences with foreign policy research and analysis.
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Methodology

This analysis is based on data from the 2022 Chicago Council Survey of the American public on foreign policy, a project of the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. The 2022 Chicago Council Survey was conducted July 15–August 1, 2022, by Ipsos using its large-scale nationwide online research panel, KnowledgePanel, in both English and Spanish among a weighted national sample of 3,106 adults 18 or older living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is +/- 1.8 percentage points. The margin of error is higher for partisan subgroups or for partial-sample items.

Partisan identification is based on how respondents answered a standard partisan self-identification question: “Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?” Ideology is based on the question, “In general do you think of yourself as:”

  republican democrat independent overall
Extremely liberal 0 9 4 4
liberal 2 32 7 14
slightly Liberal 1 17 9 10
moderate, middle of the road 19 33 51 36
slightly conservative 17 4 13 11
conservative 46 4 12 18
extremely conservative 13 0 3 5
refused 1 0 1 1

The 2022 Chicago Council Survey is made possible by the generous support of the Crown family and the Korea Foundation.   

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