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Democrats Viewed as Divided, but Satisfied With Candidates
Politics

Democrats Viewed as Divided, but Satisfied With Candidates

Democrats Viewed as Divided, but Satisfied With Candidates

Story Highlights

  • Two-thirds of Americans consider the Democrats divided rather than united
  • Majority of 56% consider Republican Party united
  • Supporters of both parties satisfied with choices for 2020 nomination

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With 11 Democrats vying for their party's 2020 presidential nomination as the primary season kicks off, 65% of Americans describe the Democratic Party as divided while 34% see it as united. By contrast, the majority of Americans (56%) say the Republican Party is united versus 43% divided.

Perceptions of Republican and Democratic Party Unity
Would you describe the [Republican Party/Democratic Party] today as united or divided?
United Divided
% %
Republican Party 56 43
Democratic Party 34 65
Based on U.S. adults
Gallup, Jan. 16-29, 2020

These results are based on a Gallup poll conducted Jan. 16-29, before the near party-line vote in the U.S. Senate to acquit President Donald Trump on impeachment charges -- as well as before the Iowa caucuses, which were marred by substantial vote-counting delays.

The same question about party cohesion was asked by CBS News in 2016 when both major parties had competitive races for their party's presidential nomination. Between May and October of that year, Americans were much more likely to consider the Republican Party as divided (83%, on average) than the Democratic Party (49%), likely reflecting the GOP's large field of primary candidates and political outsider Trump eventually winning the party's nomination.

Democrats Less Confident Than Republicans in Own Party's Unity

Republicans overwhelmingly see their party as united (76%); just 24% call it divided. By contrast, Democrats are evenly split between those seeing their own party as united (51%) or divided (49%).

Democrats are also more tentative about calling the Republican Party divided (56%) than Republicans are about labeling the Democratic Party this way (78%).

The views of political independents toward each party come closer to that of the opposing party. Two-thirds of independents consider the Democrats divided, while they are evenly split in perceptions of the Republican Party, with a bare majority of 51% calling it united.

Perceptions of Republican and Democratic Party Unity, by Party ID
Republicans Independents Democrats
% % %
Republican Party
United 76 51 43
Divided 24 49 56
Democratic Party
United 22 32 51
Divided 78 67 49
Based on U.S. adults
Gallup, Jan. 16-29, 2020

Republicans and Democrats Express High Satisfaction With Party's Field

While having a large field of candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination may create the perception of party division, the advantage is that the rank and file has plenty of choices. This is reflected in the large percentage of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (74%) who currently say they are pleased with the selection of candidates running for the party's nomination. Today's figure is nearly identical to the 75% recorded this past September when an even larger number of Democrats were in the field.

Democratic satisfaction with their party's choices this election cycle is similar to what Gallup found for the 2008 election that featured Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as the chief contestants. It far exceeds the level of Democratic contentment found in 1992, 2004 and 2016.

Democrats' Satisfaction With Selection of Candidates Running for Democratic Nomination
Are you generally pleased with the selection of candidates running for the Democratic nomination, or do you wish someone else was running for president?
Generally pleased with selection Wish someone else was running
% %
2020 election
2020 Jan 16-29 74 25
2019 Sep 16-30 75 21
2016 election
2016 May 13-15 58 39
2016 Apr 15-17 55 42
2008 election
2007 Sep 7-8 73 23
2007 Apr 13-15 80 18
2004 election
2003 Oct 10-12 51 41
2002 Dec 16-17 48 39
1992 election
1992 Mar 11-12 42 54
1992 Feb 19-20 44 45
Based on Democrats and independents who lean Democratic
Gallup

Republicans match Democrats in satisfaction with their own party's candidates.

Seventy-eight percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they are generally pleased with their selection of candidates, up slightly from 72% last fall. This high level of satisfaction probably reflects Republicans' positive feelings toward Trump -- despite his impeachment, 90% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they approve of the job he is doing as president. Meanwhile, for those who don't like Trump, two Republican opponents are attempting to get on state ballots as Trump alternatives -- Joe Walsh, former congressman from Illinois, and William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts.

The last time Republicans approached this level of satisfaction was in 2007 as the 2008 Republican presidential field was forming, which included eventual nominee John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and others. It well exceeds their satisfaction when George W. Bush was running for re-election largely unopposed; 56% in October 2003 said they were generally pleased with the selection of GOP candidates. It also surpasses their level of satisfaction in the open races in 1996, 2012 and 2016.

Republicans' Satisfaction With Selection of Candidates Running for Republican Nomination
Are you generally pleased with the selection of candidates running for the Republican nomination, or do you wish someone else was running for president?
Generally pleased with selection Wish someone else was running
% %
2020 election
2020 Jan 16-29 78 20
2019 Sep 16-30 72 24
2016 election
2016 Apr 15-17 44 55
2012 election
2012 Feb 16-19 44 55
2008 election
2007 Sep 7-8 70 26
2007 Apr 13-15 61 33
2004 election
2003 Oct 10-12 56 35
1996 election
1996 Feb 23-25 46 49
Based on Republicans and independents who lean Republican
Gallup

Bottom Line

The Democratic Party looks much more divided to Americans at this moment than does the Republican Party. That's not surprising, since Democrats are waging a contentious battle for the 2020 presidential nomination while Republicans have rallied around President Trump amid his impeachment trial.

Being perceived as the more divided party didn't prevent the Republican candidate from winning the election in 2016 (albeit with a loss in the popular vote). Hence, the current results don't represent a clear problem for Democrats, so long as the Democratic electorate coalesces behind its party's nominee by this fall. With the new Gallup poll also showing an increase in the percentage of Democrats who prioritize having a candidate who agrees with them on the issues rather than being the candidate best able to beat Trump, that unity could be harder to come by -- but the election is also nine months away, and attitudes could change before then.

View complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about public opinion metrics that matter for the 2020 presidential election at Gallup's 2020 Presidential Election Center.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/284360/democrats-viewed-divided-satisfied-candidates.aspx
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