The presidency of Donald Trump has evidently turned more Democrats into liberals than any time since 2000, especially among millennials and highly educated white voters.
Nearly half of all Democrats, 48%, now describe themselves as liberal, according to a Pew Research survey. That’s the highest level since the polling firm began to regularly track political identification 17 years ago.
Historically, liberals have been a relatively smaller share of the party. Just 29% of Democrats viewed themselves as liberal at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency in 2001, for instance.
The share of Democrats who call themselves liberal has been rising gradually for more than a decade, but it’s increased sharply in the past few years. Until very recently more Democrats had described themselves as moderate.
In the latest poll, 55% of white Democrats or white Democratic-leaning voters described themselves as liberal — twice as many as compared to 2000.
Some 60% of those with advanced college degrees identify as liberal, as did 57% of millennial Democrats.
These voters helped to power the candidacy of the former socialist, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, in his failed bid to outflank Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton’s stunning loss to Trump traumatized Democrats and since pushed many of them further to the political left.
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Only 37% of Democrats without a college degree, however, characterized themselves as liberal. The party lost the 2016 election in no small part because less-educated voters abandoned Democrats in droves.
Older Democrats were also less likely to consider themselves liberal.
While whites saw themselves as more liberal, black Democrats viewed themselves as more middle of the road.
Some 40% of African-American Democrats described their political views as moderate, compared to 28% who say they are liberal and 30% who called themselves conservative.
Hispanic Democrats saw themselves as more liberal than African-Americans, but less liberal than whites.
The turn toward liberalism among Democrats matches increased conservatism among Republican voters, Pew has also found.
“While most Americans continue to express at least some mix of liberal and conservative attitudes, the share who hold either uniformly liberal or uniformly conservative values is growing,” Pew said.
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