Politics

Just How Far Left Are Democrats Going?

Gallup finds a stark and staggering leftward shift in the opinions of rank-and-file Democrats.

Nate Jackson · Feb. 21, 2019

We’ve spent much of the last two years chronicling how far and fast Democrats are moving to the extreme left. But don’t take our word for it — take the word of average Democrats.

In a new Gallup survey, “Understanding Shifts in Democratic Party Ideology,” the organization attempts to discern an answer to what average Democrat voters think on a range of current issues. What researchers found is staggering, though it confirms what we’ve written for years:

As Gallup has previously reported, the percentage of Democrats nationally who identify as politically liberal has been increasing. This has occurred in three distinct phases: 1) 2001-2006, when the percentage was trending steadily upward; 2) 2007-2012, when liberalism held steady near 40% for several years in a row and 3) 2013-2018, when liberalism resumed its upward trajectory.

The percentage of Democrats identifying as politically liberal averaged 32% in the first period, 39% in the second and 46% in the third. At the same time, the percentages identifying as conservative and moderate fell equally.

Though all identity groups within the party have moved left, the starkest shift has been among college-educated whites — a testament to the stranglehold “progressives” have on the higher-education system because, Gallup notes, “the percentage of all college graduates (including postgrads) increas[ed] by 13 points.” Just 34% of that cohort identified as “liberal” in the early 2000s. Now it’s 54%. The shift is on issues running the gamut, too. Whether it’s gun control, climate change, or abortion, rank-and-file Democrats are moving left.

Democrat politicians have exploited and driven this shift. Remember a dozen years ago when the likes of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Chuck Schumer supported border security and opposed same-sex marriage and single-payer health care? Heck, Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (sponsored by then-Rep. Schumer), and implemented “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Now, not only have those same politicians — and the entire party — shifted, but they utterly vilify anyone who hasn’t adopted the radical new positions of open borders, forcing bakers to serve same-sex weddings, and Medicare for All. In fact, the latter is practically a litmus test for the 2020 presidential field.

Pondering the fallout of this shift, National Review’s David French writes, “Any study of the political polarization in the 21st century has to account for the fact that it is extraordinarily difficult to achieve any kind of national consensus when one side is rapidly and constantly changing its demands. … The terms of the debate changed. The goalposts shifted.”

Indeed they have, and yet, somehow, leftists are even more angry than they were before all their victories. In any case, even with Donald Trump in the White House and the Senate under GOP control, Gallup’s findings portend trouble ahead for the cause of Liberty.

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