Public Has Criticisms of Both Parties, but Democrats Lead on Empathy for Middle Class, Pew Research finds

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 20, 2017) – The public continues to be critical of both political parties, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center. Both parties’ favorability ratings are more negative than positive and fewer than half say either party has high ethical standards. Majorities also fault both for their approach to government spending.

But as in the past, more say the Democratic Party “cares about the middle class” (57%) than say that about the Republican Party (42%). And while 54% say the Republican Party is “too extreme,” fewer (45%) say this phrase applies to the Democratic Party. The share saying the Democratic Party is too extreme has risen over the past year (from 37%) while perceptions of the GOP have shown less change.

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The survey finds that despite the tumult in Washington, overall impressions of the two parties – and President Trump – have changed very little since April. Currently, 39% approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president, while 55% disapprove. For more, see detailed demographic tables on Trump’s job approval.

Just 40% view the Republican Party favorably, while 54% have an unfavorable impression. Opinions about the Democratic Party are similar (44% favorable, 50% unfavorable).

As Congress continues to debate the budget and government spending, majorities are critical of the way that both parties handle these issues. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say the Republican Party is “too willing to cut government programs even when they work.” About as many (61%) say the Democratic Party “too often sees government as the only way to solve problems.”

In general, Republicans and Democrats ascribe positive traits to their own party, while holding negative views of the opposing party. For example, about two-thirds of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (66%) say their party has high ethical standards, while about the same share of Republicans and Republican leaners (64%) say the same about the GOP. Comparable shares in each party (24% of Democrats, 21% of Republicans) say the opposing party has high ethical standards.

While large majorities in both parties characterize the other party as too extreme, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to describe their own party this way (24% of Republicans, 18% of Democrats).

Republicans also are far more likely to say the Democratic Party cares about the middle class than vice versa: 31% of Republicans say the Democratic Party cares about the middle class, compared with 16% of Democrats who say this about the GOP.

Many Democrats – especially conservative and moderate Democrats – fault their party for too often viewing government as the only way to solve problems. Overall, 44% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say their party too often sees government as the solution; conservative and moderate Democrats (50%) are more likely than liberal Democrats (38%) to say this.

Roughly a third of Republicans and Republican leaners (35%) say the Republican Party is too willing to cut government programs even when they work. The critique that the GOP cuts programs even when effective is more widespread among moderate and liberal Republicans (51%) than among conservative Republicans (28%).

The survey was conducted June 8-18 among 2,504 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points for results based on the full sample.

Read the report: http://www.people-press.org/2017/06/20/public-has-criticisms-of-both-parties-but-democrats-lead-on-empathy-for-middle-class

Detailed demographic tables on Trump’s job approval: http://www.people-press.org/2017/06/20/presidential-approval-detailed-tables-june-2017/