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Factions in the Democratic Party (United States)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Democratic Party of the United States is composed of various factions, with significant overlap and enough agreement between them to coexist in one party.

Centrist factions

Moderate wing

Former President Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton
Representative Suzan DelBene
Representative Suzan DelBene

During the 1968 United States presidential election, pro-war moderate Hubert Humphrey took the Democratic presidential nomination over the winner of the popular vote, anti-war progressive Eugene McCarthy.[1]

In 1985, the Democratic Leadership Council, a moderate faction within the party, was created after the landslide victory of Republican Ronald Reagan over Democrat Walter Mondale at the 1984 presidential election.[2]

During the 1992 United States presidential election, Bill Clinton and Al Gore, both members of the Democratic Leadership Council, each ran as a New Democrat, a Democrat for more limited government. In 1994, Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.[3]

Most moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives are members of the New Democrat Coalition, although there is considerable overlap in the membership of New Democrats and Blue Dogs, with most Blue Dogs also being New Democrats.[4]

Conservative wing

Senator Joe Manchin
Representative Tom O'Halleran
Representative Tom O'Halleran

The conservative coalition was an unofficial coalition in the United States Congress bringing together a conservative majority of the Republican Party and the conservative, mostly Southern wing of the Democratic Party. It was dominant in Congress from 1937 to 1963 and remained a political force until the mid-1980s, eventually dying out in the 1990s. In terms of Congressional roll call votes, it primarily appeared on votes affecting labor unions. The conservative coalition did not operate on civil rights bills, for the two wings had opposing viewpoints.[5] However, the coalition did have the power to prevent unwanted bills from even coming to a vote. The coalition included many committee chairmen from the South who blocked bills by not reporting them from their committees. Furthermore, Howard W. Smith, Chairman of the House Rules Committee, often could kill a bill simply by not reporting it out with a favorable rule and he lost some of that power in 1961.[6] The conservative coalition was not concerned with foreign policy as most of the Southern Democrats were internationalists, a position opposed by most Republicans.

Today, conservative Democrats are generally regarded as members of the Democratic Party who are more conservative than the national political party as a whole. Today's conservative Democrats vary greatly in ideology. Some are fiscally conservative yet socially liberal, somewhat akin to the now rare Moderate Republicans, whereas others have a more communitarian ideology – that is, socially moderate but in favor of qualified economic intervention – reminiscent of Christian democrats in Europe and Latin America. On foreign policy, conservative Democrats are generally liberal internationalists. Conservative Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are usually members of the Blue Dog Coalition, although there is some overlap with the New Democrats. The Blue Dog Coalition prioritizes pragmatic solutions to critical issues, "pursuing fiscal responsibility, ensuring a strong national defense, and transcending party lines to get things done for the American people."[7]

Libertarian wing

Representative Tulsi Gabbard
Representative Tulsi Gabbard

Civil liberties advocates often support the Democratic Party because its positions on such issues as civil rights and separation of church and state are more closely aligned to their own than the positions of the Republican Party and because the Democrats' economic agenda may be more appealing to them than that of the Libertarian Party.[8] Some civil libertarians also support the Democratic Party for the faction that strongly opposes torture, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention, the Patriot Act, the War on Drugs, and Guantanamo Bay.[9][10]

In the 2010s, following the revelations about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance in 2013 and the advent of online decentralization and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Democratic lawmakers such as Representatives Jared Polis and Tulsi Gabbard have worked alongside libertarian Republicans like Senator Rand Paul and Representative Justin Amash (the latter later a member of the Libertarian Party), earning plaudits from such libertarian sources as Reason.[11][12][13][14] Gabbard has also earned praise from libertarians for her strong anti-war stances,[15] and Polis, elected in 2018 as Governor of Colorado, has been described as a libertarian Democrat[16] for his support of democratic causes like universal healthcare, paid parental leave, and renewable energy while also supporting gun rights and lowering income taxes, once saying, "The less government intervention in our private lives, the better."[16] The growing political power of Silicon Valley, a longtime Democratic stronghold which is friendly to economic deregulation and strong civil liberties protections while maintaining traditionally liberal views on social issues, has had an impact on the libertarian leanings of young Democrats as well.[17][18][19]

The Democratic Freedom Caucus is an organized group of this faction.[20]

Center-left factions

Liberal wing

United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt
United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt
United States President John F. Kennedy
United States President John F. Kennedy

Modern liberalism in the Democratic Party began during the Progressive Era. From 1900 to 1920, liberals called themselves progressives and rallied behind Democrats such as William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson to fight corruption, waste, and big trusts. The Wilson administration saw the enactment of the New Freedom, a package of progressive social programs. The rise of the women's suffrage movement, opposed by Southern Democrats but supported by Republicans and Wilson, saw the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and a push for civil rights legislation on the basis of gender. The first modern self-described liberal Democratic president was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who enacted the New Deal, a series of social liberal programs enacted in the United States between 1933 and 1938 and a few that came later. In the 1940s, liberal Democrats began pushing for desegregation and civil rights legislation for racial minorities, and in the 1960s, liberal Democrats began pushing for immigration reform and gun control. Beyond the New Deal, Democratic presidents advocated landmark liberal programs such as John F. Kennedy's New Frontier and Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society, the latter of which established Medicare and Medicaid. During the Cold War, the liberal movement became anti-communist. Beginning in the 1970s, liberal Democrats emphasized civil rights for disabled people, consumer protection, environmentalism, LGBT rights, reproductive rights, and ending capital punishment.

According to historian David Greenberg:

Liberalism has been the governing philosophy of the Democratic Party since Franklin D. Roosevelt, if not Woodrow Wilson: a doctrine of liberty, equality, justice and individual rights that relies, in the modern age, on a strong federal government for enforcement. The party has remained ideologically diverse, ranging from moderates or conservatives ... to leftists or radicals.... Most prominent Democrats, however, including established veterans like former vice president Joe Biden, Pelosi (Calif.), Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, are liberal.[21]

Liberalism is distinguished from other ideologies as follows: "Liberals like Biden or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) differ from conservatives in favoring strict rules to make sure the pursuit of profit doesn't come at the expense of labor rights, consumer rights, the environment or fair competition. They also reject the vision of leftists like Sanders by seeing a vital role for private business in generating wealth, economic opportunity and innovation." Accordingly, they favor a regulated market economy as opposed to a command economy. The term liberal, however, has been muddled by some reporters as a synonym for leftist, while "true liberals like Obama, Biden and Pelosi are recast as 'moderates.'"[21]

The presidency of Barack Obama was comparatively further to the left than Bill Clinton's. The key legislative achievement of the Obama administration, the passage and enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), was generally supported among liberal Democrats.[22] On social progressivism, liberal Democrats achieved expansion of LGBT rights, federal hate crime laws, rescinding the Mexico City Policy, later reinstituted by President Donald Trump, rescinding the ban on federal taxpayer dollars to fund research on embryonic stem cells, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the Cuban thaw. In the 2010s, Democratic liberals began pushing for the legalization of cannabis, succeeding in several states. Barack Obama did not crack down on states that legalized cannabis during his presidency.[23]

In 2011, the Democratic Leadership Council, which supported more centrist and Third Way positions, was dissolved. In 2016, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton eschewed her husband's "New Covenant" centrism for more liberal proposals such as rolling back mandatory minimum sentencing laws, a debt-free college tuition plan for public university students, and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.[24][25]

A 2015 Gallup annual average based on January though December 2015 as part of Gallup's monthly Gallup Poll Social Series surveys found a record 45% of Democrats identify as liberals—a rise from 29% in 2000.[26] A 2015 Public Religion Research Institute found 82% of liberal Democrats opposed permitting small business owners to discriminate by refusing products and services to gay and lesbian people, while 15% supported allowing this.[27] A March 2015 Pew Research Center poll found 75% of liberal Democrats believed cannabis should be legal, while 22% were opposed.[28] A March 2016 Pew Research Center poll found 84% of liberal Democrats support same-sex marriage, while 12% oppose it, and 87% believe homosexuality should be accepted by society, while 8% believe it should be discouraged.[29] A May 2016 Gallup poll found that more Democrats identified as liberal on social issues (57%) than as liberal on economic issues (41%). The 57% of Democrats who said they were liberal on social issues is up from 35% in 2001.[30]

In 2019, the Pew Research Center found that 47% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters identify as liberal or very liberal, while 51% identify as moderate, conservative, or very conservative.[31]

Progressive wing

Representative Pramila Jayapal
Representative Pramila Jayapal
Representative Mark Pocan
Representative Mark Pocan
Representative Barbara Lee
Representative Barbara Lee

Today, progressives are often considered synonymous with liberals but are sometimes considered to be more left-leaning. They are regarded as social progressives. On economic issues, progressive Democrats generally promote Keynesian economics or a mixed economic system. The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is a caucus of progressive House Democrats, along with one independent in the Senate, in the Congress. It is the second largest Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives and its members have included Representatives Dennis Kucinich (OH), Alan Grayson (FL), John Conyers (MI), Barbara Lee (CA), Jim McDermott (WA), and John Lewis (GA).[32]

Many progressive Democrats are ideological descendants of the New Left of Democratic presidential candidate and Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, while others were involved in the presidential candidacies of Vermont Governor Howard Dean and U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. Still others are former members of the Green Party. This group consists disproportionately of college-educated professionals.[33] A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that a plurality (41%) resided in mass affluent households and 49% were college graduates.[34]

Progressive Democratic candidates for public office have had popular support as candidates in metropolitan areas outside the South. Senators Paul Wellstone (MN),[35] Elizabeth Warren (MA),[36] Jeff Merkley (OR),[37] and Sherrod Brown (OH) have been described as progressive. Additionally, Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), although not a Democrat, is widely considered a progressive who caucuses with the Democrats. Other notable progressives include Henry A. Wallace,[38] Eugene McCarthy, Russ Feingold, and Ted Kennedy.[39]

The 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was largely a fight along ideological lines between the liberals and progressives. Clinton, who referred to herself as a "progressive who gets things done", received substantial support from African Americans, older Americans, women, LGBT Americans, Latino Americans, and Jewish Americans[citation needed]. Sanders, the first chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, instead received an overwhelming majority of support from millennials across the board.

In 2016, the Blue Collar Caucus, a pro-labor, anti-outsourcing Caucus was formed,[40][41][42][43] with significant overlap in members with the Progressive Caucus, although some moderates such as Cheri Bustos are members as well.

Left-wing faction

Representative Cori Bush
Representative Cori Bush

In electoral politics, the Social Democrats, USA (SDUSA) National Co-Chairman Bayard Rustin stated in 1974 that the goal of SDUSA was to transform the Democratic Party into a social democratic party.[44] Since the Great Recession, Occupy Wall Street, and Bernie Sanders' presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2020, support for social democracy in the Democratic Party has increased.

There are six self-described democratic socialists in the United States Congress as of 2021: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Representative Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman of New York, Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Representative Cori Bush of Missouri; all self-described democratic socialists in Congress are members of the Democratic Party, with the exception of Sanders, who caucuses with the Senate Democrats as an independent.

Sanders has twice run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination (2016, 2020). In all three of Sanders's elections to the Senate (2006, 2012, 2018) and three of his elections to the House (1994, 1998, 2002), Sanders won the Democratic nomination, either through write-ins or appearing on the Democratic primary ballot; in all instances, he declined the nomination to remain an independent. Former Representative Ron Dellums of California described himself as a democratic socialist, and served from 1971 to 1998 in the House of Representatives and from 2007 to 2011 as Mayor of Oakland.[45]

Electoral results

House of Representatives

Election year Blue Dog Coalition New Democrat Coalition Congressional Progressive Caucus Democratic Socialists of America
2008
56 / 257
59 / 257
71 / 257
2010
26 / 193
42 / 193
77 / 193
2012
14 / 200
53 / 200
68 / 200
2014
14 / 188
46 / 188
68 / 188
2016
18 / 193
61 / 193
78 / 193
2018
26 / 233
103 / 233
96 / 233
2 / 233
2020
18 / 222
93 / 222
92 / 222
4 / 222

Voter base

Black Americans

Former President Barack Obama
Former President Barack Obama
Senator Cory Booker
Representative Karen Bass
Representative Karen Bass

Originally, the Republican Party was favored by Black Americans after the end of the civil war and emancipation of enslaved Black Americans. This trend started to gradually change in the 1930s, with Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs that gave economic relief to all minorities including Black Americans and Hispanics. Support for the civil rights movement in the 1960s by Democratic presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson helped give the Democrats even larger support among the Black community, although their position also alienated the Southern white population. Starting around this time, Black Americans were alienated from the Republican Party by the Southern strategy, particularly by Richard Nixon.[46] Today, Black Americans have stronger support for the Democratic Party than any group has for either party, voting 93% Democratic in the 2012 presidential election,[47] 89% Democratic in the 2016 presidential election,[48] and 87% Democratic in the 2020 presidential election.[49] Prominent Black American Democrats include President Barack Obama, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senators Raphael Warnock and Cory Booker, former Senator Carol Moseley Braun, former Governors Douglas Wilder and Deval Patrick, and Representatives Shirley Chisholm, John Lewis, and Jim Clyburn.

Asian Americans

Vice President Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris
Representative Mark Takano
Representative Mark Takano

The Democratic Party also has considerable support in the small yet growing Asian-American population. The Asian-American population had been a stronghold of the Republican Party until the United States presidential election of 1992 in which George H. W. Bush won 55% of the Asian-American vote, compared to Bill Clinton winning 31% and Ross Perot winning 15%. Originally, the majority of Asian Americans consisted of strongly anti-communist Vietnamese refugees, Chinese Americans, Taiwanese Americans, Korean Americans, and Filipino Americans. The Republican Party's socially conservative, fervently anti-communist position strongly resonated with this original demographic. The Democratic Party made gains among the Asian-American population starting in 1996 and in 2006 won 62% of the Asian-American vote. Exit polls after the 2008 presidential election indicated that Democrat Barack Obama had won 62% of the Asian-American vote.[50] In the 2012 presidential election, 73% of the Asian-American electorate voted for Obama's reelection.[51]

According to a survey taken by the Times of India, Obama had the support of 85% of Indian Americans, 68% of Chinese Americans, and 57% of Filipino Americans in 2012.[52] The Asian-American community's increasing number of young voters has also helped to erode traditionally Republican voting blocs such as Vietnamese Americans, making the community increasingly a Democratic stronghold. Prominent Asian-American Democrats include Senators Mazie Hirono and Tammy Duckworth, former Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, former Governor and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, and Representatives Judy Chu, Doris Matsui, and Andy Kim.

Hispanic Americans

Representative Pete Aguilar
Representative Pete Aguilar

The Hispanic-American population, particularly the large Mexican-American population in the Southwest and the large Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Central American populations in the Northeast, have been strongholds for the Democratic Party. Hispanic Democrats commonly favor liberal views on immigration. In the 1996 presidential election, Democratic president Bill Clinton received 72% of the Hispanic vote.

After a period of incremental gains under George W. Bush, the Republican Party's support among Hispanics seriously eroded after a heated and acrimonious debate within the party during the 109th Congress over immigration reform. Nationwide protests helped galvanize Hispanic political participation, and in the 2006 elections, Democrats increased their share of the Hispanic vote to 69%.[53] This trend continued in 2008, as Barack Obama carried the Latino vote with 67%.[54] Obama expanded his share of the Latino vote to 71% in the 2012 presidential election.

National exit polling among Black/African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latino/Hispanic Americans
Year Branch % of Black/African-American

Democratic vote

% of Asian-American

Democratic vote

% of Latino/Hispanic American

Democratic vote

1976[55] United States Presidency 83 83
 
- - 82 82
 
1980[56] United States Presidency 83 83
 
- - 56 56
 
1982[57] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
- - 75 75
 
1984[58] United States House of Representatives 92 92
 
- - 69 69
 
1984[59] United States Presidency 91 91
 
- - 66 66
 
1986[60] United States House of Representatives 86 86
 
- - 75 75
 
1988[61] United States House of Representatives 85 85
 
- - 76 76
 
1988[62] United States Presidency 83 83
 
- - 70 70
 
1990[63] United States House of Representatives 79 79
 
63 63
 
72 72
 
1992[64] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
49 49
 
72 72
 
1992[65] United States Presidency 83 83
 
31 31
 
61 61
 
1994[66] United States House of Representatives 92 92
 
54 54
 
61 61
 
1996[67] United States House of Representatives 82 82
 
43 43
 
73 73
 
1996[68] United States Presidency 84 84
 
44 44
 
73 73
 
1998[69] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
56 56
 
63 63
 
2000[70] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
59 59
 
65 65
 
2000[71] United States Presidency 90 90
 
55 55
 
62 62
 
2002[72] United States House of Representatives 91 91
 
66 66
 
62 62
 
2004[73] United States House of Representatives 90 90
 
57 57
 
56 56
 
2004[74] United States Presidency 88 88
 
56 56
 
53 53
 
2006[75] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
63 63
 
74 74
 
2008[76] United States House of Representatives 94 94
 
67 67
 
70 70
 
2008[77] United States Presidency 95 95
 
62 62
 
67 67
 
2010[78] United States House of Representatives 91 91
 
59 59
 
66 66
 
2012[79] United States House of Representatives 92 92
 
74 74
 
69 69
 
2012[80] United States Presidency 93 93
 
73 73
 
71 71
 
2014[81] United States House of Representatives 90 90
 
49 49
 
63 63
 
2016[82] United States Presidency 88 88
 
65 65
 
65 65
 
2016[83] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
65 65
 
67 67
 
2018[84] United States House of Representatives 90 90
 
77 77
 
69 69
 
2020[85] United States Presidency 87 87
 
61 61
 
65 65
 
2020[86] United States House of Representatives 87 87
 
68 68
 
63 63
 

Native Americans

Representative Sharice Davids
Representative Sharice Davids

The Democratic Party also has strong support among certain tribes of the Native American population.[87] Though now a small percentage of the population (virtually non-existent in some regions), most Native American precincts vote Democratic in margins exceeded only by African Americans.[88]

Modern-day Democratic Native American politicians include former Congressman and former United States Under Secretary of the Army Brad Carson of Oklahoma, Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott of Alaska, Principal Chief Bill John Baker of the Cherokee Nation, and Governor Bill Anoatubby of the Chickasaw Nation.

In 2018, Democrats Deb Haaland of New Mexico and Sharice Davids of Kansas became the first Native American women ever elected to Congress.[89] Democrat Peggy Flanagan was also elected in 2018 and currently serves as Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota. Flanagan is the second Native American woman to be elected to statewide executive office in U.S. history and the highest-ranking Native woman to be elected to executive office.[90]

Younger voters

Representative Sara Jacobs
Representative Sara Jacobs
National exit polling among 18–29-year-old, and 30–44-year-old Americans
Year Branch % of 18–29-year-old American

Democratic vote

% of 30–44-year-old Americans

Democratic vote

1976[55] United States Presidency - - 52 52
 
1980[56] United States Presidency - - 38 38
 
1982[57] United States House of Representatives 59 59
 
54 54
 
1984[58] United States House of Representatives 51 51
 
54 54
 
1984[59] United States Presidency - - 42 42
 
1986[60] United States House of Representatives 51 51
 
52 52
 
1988[61] United States House of Representatives 54 54
 
54 54
 
1988[62] United States Presidency 47 47
 
46 46
 
1990[63] United States House of Representatives 52 52
 
53 53
 
1992[64] United States House of Representatives 55 55
 
53 53
 
1994[66] United States House of Representatives 49 49
 
46 46
 
1996[67] United States House of Representatives 55 55
 
50 50
 
1998[69] United States House of Representatives 50 50
 
50 50
 
2000[70] United States House of Representatives 51 51
 
49 49
 
2002[72] United States House of Representatives 51 51
 
45 45
 
2004[73] United States House of Representatives 56 56
 
48 48
 
2006[75] United States House of Representatives 61 61
 
54 54
 
2008[76] United States House of Representatives 65 65
 
55 55
 
2008[77] United States Presidency 66 66
 
52 52
 
2010[78] United States House of Representatives 58 58
 
48 48
 
2012[79] United States House of Representatives 61 61
 
52 52
 
2012[80] United States Presidency 60 60
 
52 52
 
2014[81] United States House of Representatives 55 55
 
51 51
 
2016[82] United States Presidency 55 55
 
50 50
 
2016[83] United States House of Representatives 57 57
 
53 53
 
2018[84] United States House of Representatives 67 67
 
58 58
 
2020[85] United States Presidency 60 60
 
52 52
 
2020[86] United States House of Representatives 62 62
 
53 53
 

Christian Americans

United States President Jimmy Carter (Baptist)
United States President Jimmy Carter (Baptist)
United States President Joe Biden (Roman Catholic)
United States President Joe Biden (Roman Catholic)
United States Senator Tom Carper (Presbyterian)
United States Senator Tom Carper (Presbyterian)

As of 2021, every Democratic United States President, Democratic United States Vice President, and Democratic presidential nominee has been a Christian. According to the Pew Research Center, 78.4% of Democrats in the 116th United States Congress were Christian.[91]

Muslim Americans

Representative Rashida Tlaib
Representative Rashida Tlaib
Representative Ilhan Omar
Representative Ilhan Omar

Muslims make up about 0.6% of Americans and in the 2008 presidential election, 89% of Muslim Americans voted for Barack Obama.[92] Muslim Americans tend to be financially well off as many in the community are small businessmen and educated professionals. They also tend to be socially conservative, but the younger generation of Muslim Americans tends to be more socially liberal.[93]

After the September 11 attacks, many Muslim Americans experienced hostility and discrimination,[94] and many right-wing religious and political leaders attacked Islam both as a violent religion and as a threat to American values.[95][96] Furthermore, most Muslim Americans opposed the Iraq War, solidifying their shift to the Democratic Party.[97]

Islamic convert Keith Ellison was elected as the first Muslim member of Congress in 2006. He was elected as the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district. In 2018, Ellison was elected as the Attorney General of Minnesota.[98]

A 2017 Pew Research Center report found that majority (66%) of American Muslims identify with or learn toward the Democratic Party, receiving consistent support from 2011 at 70% and 63% at 2007.[99]

According to exit polls for the 2018 midterm elections, 78% of Muslim voters supported Democratic candidates. 46% considered themselves liberal on social issues, while 35% considered themselves socially conservative. 40% considered themselves liberal on fiscal issues, while 43% considered themselves fiscally conservative.[100] The first two Muslim women to serve in Congress, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, are both Democrats.

Irreligious Americans

The Democratic Party receives support from secular organizations such as the Secular Coalition for America[101] and many agnostic and atheist Americans. Exit polls from the 2008 election showed that although a religious affiliation of "none" accounted for 12% of the electorate, they overwhelmingly voted for Obama by a 75–25% margin.[102] In his inaugural address, Obama acknowledged atheists by saying that the United States is not just "Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus but non-believers as well".[103] In the 2012 election cycle, Obama had moderate to high rankings with the Secular Coalition for America, whereas the majority of the Republican candidates had ratings in the low-to-failing range.[104]

A Pew Research Center survey conducted between January and June 2016 found 28% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters were religiously unaffiliated. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in June 2016 found that 67% of religious "nones" supported Hillary Clinton and 23% supported Donald Trump.[105]

An October 2012 American Values Survey found that among atheist and agnostic American voters, 51% identified as politically independent, 39% Democratic, 9% Republican, and 1% other. Moreover, 57% in this group identified as liberal, and 81% supported Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.[106]

National exit polling among Americans who self identify their religion as "None"
Year Branch % of Democratic vote among those who self identify their religion as "None"
1996[107] United States Presidency 59 59
 
2000[108] United States Presidency 61 61
 
2004[109] United States House of Representatives 65 65
 
2004[74] United States Presidency 67 67
 
2006[110] United States House of Representatives 74 74
 
2008[111] United States House of Representatives 72 72
 
2008[112] United States Presidency 75 75
 
2012[113] United States House of Representatives 71 71
 
2012[80] United States Presidency 70 70
 
2014[114] United States House of Representatives 69 69
 
2016[82] United States Presidency 68 68
 
2016[83] United States House of Representatives 72 72
 
2018[84] United States House of Representatives 70 70
 
2020[85] United States Presidency 65 65
 
2020[86] United States House of Representatives 66 66
 

Jewish Americans

Senator Ron Wyden
Senator Ron Wyden
Senator Jon Ossoff
Senator Jon Ossoff

Jewish Americans are a stronghold for the Democratic Party, with more than 70% of Jewish voters having cast their ballots for the Democrats in the 1992 through 2016 presidential elections. Of the 29 Jewish Senators and Representatives who served in the 114th Congress, 27 were Democrats.[115] Among American Jews are people who consider themselves religious believers of one denomination or another as well as people who are explicitly or implicitly secular.

National exit polling among self-identified Jews
Year Branch % of Democratic vote among self-identified Jews
1982[57] United States House of Representatives 82 82
 
1984[58] United States House of Representatives 70 70
 
1984[116] United States Presidency 68 68
 
1986[60] United States House of Representatives 70 70
 
1988[61] United States House of Representatives 68 68
 
1988[116] United States Presidency 67 67
 
1990[63] United States House of Representatives 73 73
 
1992[64] United States House of Representatives 79 79
 
1992[116] United States Presidency 77 77
 
1994[66] United States House of Representatives 77 77
 
1996[67] United States House of Representatives 74 74
 
1996[107] United States Presidency 78 78
 
1998[69] United States House of Representatives 79 79
 
2000[70] United States House of Representatives 76 76
 
2000[117] United States Presidency 79 79
 
2002[72] United States House of Representatives 64 64
 
2004[73] United States House of Representatives 78 78
 
2004[74] United States Presidency 74 74
 
2006[75] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
2008[76] United States House of Representatives 88 88
 
2008[112] United States Presidency 78 78
 
2012[79] United States House of Representatives 71 71
 
2012[80] United States Presidency 69 69
 
2014[81] United States House of Representatives 66 66
 
2016[82] United States Presidency 71 71
 
2016[83] United States House of Representatives 72 72
 
2018[84] United States House of Representatives 79 79
 


Voters with higher education

Postgraduate education

National exit polling among people with postgraduate education
Year Branch % of Democratic vote among people with postgraduate education
1986[60] United States House of Representatives 56 56
 
1988[61] United States House of Representatives 54 54
 
1990[63] United States House of Representatives 53 53
 
1992[64] United States House of Representatives 55 55
 
1994[66] United States House of Representatives 57 57
 
1996[67] United States House of Representatives 51 51
 
1998[69] United States House of Representatives 54 54
 
2000[70] United States House of Representatives 54 54
 
2000[118] United States Presidency 52 52
 
2002[72] United States House of Representatives 47 47
 
2004[73] United States House of Representatives 53 53
 
2004[74] United States Presidency 55 55
 
2006[75] United States House of Representatives 59 59
 
2008[76] United States House of Representatives 57 57
 
2008[77] United States Presidency 58 58
 
2010[78] United States House of Representatives 52 52
 
2012[79] United States House of Representatives 56 56
 
2012[80] United States Presidency 55 55
 
2014[81] United States House of Representatives 54 54
 
2016[82] United States Presidency 58 58
 
2016[83] United States House of Representatives 57 57
 
2018[84] United States House of Representatives 65 65
 
2020[85] United States Presidency 62 62
 
2020[86] United States House of Representatives 60 60
 

Lower income families

National exit polling among families with income less than $30,000, and between $30,000–49,999
Year Branch % of Democratic vote among families

with income less than $30,000

% of Democratic vote among families

with income $30,000–49,999

1982[57] United States House of Representatives - - 52 52
 
1984[58] United States House of Representatives - - 49 49
 
1986[60] United States House of Representatives - - 53 53
 
1988[61] United States House of Representatives - - 53 53
 
1990[63] United States House of Representatives - - 52 52
 
1992[64] United States House of Representatives 61 61
 
52 52
 
1992[65] United States Presidency - - 41 41
 
1994[66] United States House of Representatives 55 55
 
45 45
 
1996[67] United States House of Representatives 58 58
 
50 50
 
1996[68] United States Presidency - - 49 49
 
1998[69] United States House of Representatives 56 56
 
49 49
 
2000[70] United States House of Representatives 58 58
 
51 51
 
2000[118] United States Presidency - - 49 49
 
2002[72] United States House of Representatives 60 60
 
50 50
 
2004[73] United States House of Representatives 62 62
 
52 52
 
2004[74] United States Presidency - - 50 50
 
2006[75] United States House of Representatives 65 65
 
57 57
 
2008[76] United States House of Representatives 68 68
 
59 59
 
2008[77] United States Presidency - - 55 55
 
2010[78] United States House of Representatives 57 57
 
52 52
 
2012[79] United States House of Representatives 64 64
 
57 57
 
2014[81] United States House of Representatives 60 60
 
52 52
 
2016[82] United States Presidency 53 53
 
51 51
 
2016[83] United States House of Representatives 57 57
 
56 56
 
2018[84] United States House of Representatives 63 63
 
57 57
 
2020[85] United States Presidency 54 54
 
56 56
 
2020[86] United States House of Representatives 54 54
 
56 56
 

Labor

Since the 1930s, a critical component of the Democratic Party coalition has been organized labor. Labor unions supply a great deal of the money, grassroots political organization, and voting base of support for the party. Union membership in the United States has declined from an all-time high in 1954 of 35% to a low of 11% in 2015. After the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the McGovern–Fraser Commission set up the modern system of primaries. It also removed organized labor from its structural position of power in the Democratic Party and opened it up democratically to the voters.

National exit polling among union members
Year Branch % of Democratic vote among union members
2000[118] United States Presidency 62 62
 
2004[109] United States House of Representatives 65 65
 
2004[74] United States Presidency 61 61
 
2006[110] United States House of Representatives 68 68
 
2008[119] United States House of Representatives 65 65
 
2008[120] United States Presidency 61 61
 
2020[85] United States Presidency 56 56
 
2020[86] United States House of Representatives 60 60
 

Working class

The American working class remains a stronghold of the Democratic Party and continues to be an essential part of the Democratic base. Economic insecurity makes the majority of working-class people left-of-center on economic issues. However, many working class Democrats differ from liberals in their more socially conservative views. Working class Democrats tend to be more religious and more likely to belong to an ethnic minority. The continued importance of the working class manifests itself in exit polls, which show that the majority of those with working class incomes and education vote for the Democratic Party.[121][122][123]

Since 1980,[124] there has been a decline in support for the Democratic Party among white working class voters.[125][126][127] In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama carried 40% of white voters without college degrees to John McCain carrying 58%.[128] In the 2012 presidential election, Obama carried 36% of white working class voters to Mitt Romney carrying 61%.[129]

LGBT Americans

Representative David Cicilline
Representative David Cicilline
Representative Mark Pocan
Representative Mark Pocan

Since the 1970s, LGBT Americans have been a key constituency in the Democratic Party. In 1971, the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club was formed as the first organization for LGBT Democrats in the nation. During the 1980 Democratic Party presidential primaries, Ted Kennedy alleged that President Jimmy Carter was not doing enough for LGBT rights. LGBT voters contributed to Kennedy's victory in California's primary.

Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both heavily targeted LGBT voters. Exit polling from 1990 to the present shows that LGBT voters overwhelmingly prefer the Democratic Party over the Republican Party. In the 2012 election exit polls, Obama won 76% of LGBT voters. In the 2016 election exit polls, Hillary Clinton won 78% of LGBT voters. In the 2018 election exit polls, Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives won 82% of LGBT voters.

In January 2021, Oklahoma State Representative Mauree Turner became the first openly non-binary state legislator.

National polling of the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses among LGB Democratic likely voters
Poll source Date
administered
Sample
size
Hillary
Clinton
Barack
Obama
John
Edwards
Dennis
Kucinich
Bill
Richardson
Chris
Dodd
Joe
Biden
Refused
Hunter College November 15–26, 2007 501 62.8% 22.3% 6.5% 4.5% 1.2% 1.1% 1.0% 0.6%
National polling of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses among GB Americans
Poll source Date
administered
Sample
size
Hillary
Clinton
Bernie
Sanders
Undecided Other
SCRUFF February 2016 10,510 62.5% 31.0% 5.9% 0.6%
National exit polling among LGBT Americans
Year Branch % of LGBT Democratic vote
1990[63] United States House of Representatives 78 78
 
1992[64] United States House of Representatives 77 77
 
1992[65] United States Presidency 72 72
 
1994[66] United States House of Representatives 74 74
 
1996[67] United States House of Representatives 73 73
 
1996[68] United States Presidency 69 69
 
1998[69] United States House of Representatives 67 67
 
2000[70] United States House of Representatives 68 68
 
2000[71] United States Presidency 71 71
 
2004[73] United States House of Representatives 76 76
 
2004[74] United States Presidency 77 77
 
2006[75] United States House of Representatives 75 75
 
2008[76] United States House of Representatives 81 81
 
2008[120] United States Presidency 70 70
 
2010[78] United States House of Representatives 69 69
 
2012[79] United States House of Representatives 79 79
 
2012[80] United States Presidency 76 76
 
2014[81] United States House of Representatives 76 76
 
2016[82] United States Presidency 78 78
 
2016[83] United States House of Representatives 79 79
 
2018[84] United States House of Representatives 82 82
 
2020[85] United States Presidency 64 64
 
2020[86] United States House of Representatives 66 66
 
Transgender Americans

At the 2000 Democratic National Convention, Jane Fee of Minnesota was the first transgender delegate to a Democratic National Convention. The 2008 national Democratic Party platform for the first time included "gender identity" in the party platform, the first explicit inclusion of transgender people in the national Democratic Party platform. In 2009, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) added gender identity to the DNC's non-discrimination policy and DNC Chair Tim Kaine appointed Barbra Casbar Siperstein the first openly transgender member of the DNC. In 2010, President Obama became the first president to appoint an openly transgender person to political positions in the United States federal government. In 2012, Trans United for Obama, the first partisan transgender issues group was formed to reelect President Barack Obama.[130] During the 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama became the first U.S. president ever to use the term "transgender".[131] At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Sarah McBride became the first openly transgender person to address a Democratic National Convention.[132] A 2015 United States Transgender Survey found 50% of transgender Americans identified as Democrats and 48% as independents. When asked about their political views, 55% described themselves as very liberal, 27% liberal, 15% moderate, 2% conservative, and 1% very conservative.[133]

Unmarried people

National exit polling among unmarried people
Year Branch % of Democratic unmarried vote
1982[57] United States House of Representatives 63 63
 
1984[58] United States House of Representatives 56 56
 
1986[60] United States House of Representatives 56 56
 
1988[61] United States House of Representatives 54 54
 
1990[63] United States House of Representatives 59 59
 
1992[64] United States House of Representatives 61 61
 
1994[66] United States House of Representatives 55 55
 
1996[67] United States House of Representatives 60 60
 
1998[69] United States House of Representatives 60 60
 
2000[70] United States House of Representatives 59 59
 
2002[72] United States House of Representatives 59 59
 
2004[73] United States House of Representatives 60 60
 
2006[75] United States House of Representatives 63 63
 
2008[76] United States House of Representatives 67 67
 
2012[79] United States House of Representatives 63 63
 
2014[81] United States House of Representatives 57 57
 
2016[82] United States Presidency 55 55
 
2016[83] United States House of Representatives 58 58
 
2018[84] United States House of Representatives 61 61
 
2020[85] United States Presidency 58 58
 
2020[86] United States House of Representatives 58 58
 

Ideology

National exit polling among liberal and moderate Americans
Year Branch % of liberal American Democratic vote % of moderate American Democratic vote
1976[55] United States Presidency 74 74
 
53 53
 
1980[56] United States Presidency 60 60
 
43 43
 
1982[57] United States House of Representatives 80 80
 
60 60
 
1984[58] United States House of Representatives 76 76
 
57 57
 
1984[59] United States Presidency 71 71
 
46 46
 
1986[60] United States House of Representatives 71 71
 
58 58
 
1988[61] United States House of Representatives 80 80
 
57 57
 
1988[62] United States Presidency 82 82
 
51 51
 
1990[63] United States House of Representatives 73 73
 
56 56
 
1992[64] United States House of Representatives 81 81
 
57 57
 
1992[65] United States Presidency 68 68
 
48 48
 
1994[66] United States House of Representatives 81 81
 
57 57
 
1996[67] United States House of Representatives 82 82
 
57 57
 
1996[68] United States Presidency 81 81
 
57 57
 
1998[69] United States House of Representatives 84 84
 
55 55
 
2000[70] United States House of Representatives 84 84
 
54 54
 
2000[71] United States Presidency 81 81
 
53 53
 
2002[72] United States House of Representatives 81 81
 
54 54
 
2004[73] United States House of Representatives 80 80
 
53 53
 
2004[74] United States Presidency 85 85
 
54 54
 
2006[75] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
61 61
 
2008[76] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
62 62
 
2008[77] United States Presidency 89 89
 
60 60
 
2010[78] United States House of Representatives 92 92
 
57 57
 
2012[79] United States House of Representatives 88 88
 
58 58
 
2012[80] United States Presidency 86 86
 
56 56
 
2014[81] United States House of Representatives 88 88
 
54 54
 
2016[82] United States Presidency 84 84
 
52 52
 
2016[83] United States House of Representatives 88 88
 
53 53
 
2018[84] United States House of Representatives 91 91
 
62 62
 
2020[85] United States Presidency 89 89
 
64 64
 
2020[86] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
64 64
 

Registered Democrats

National exit polling among registered Democrats
Year Branch % of Democratic vote among registered Democrats
1976[55] United States Presidency 80 80
 
1980[56] United States Presidency 67 67
 
1982[57] United States House of Representatives 90 90
 
1984[58] United States House of Representatives 85 85
 
1984[59] United States Presidency 74 74
 
1986[60] United States House of Representatives 81 81
 
1988[61] United States House of Representatives 83 83
 
1988[62] United States Presidency 83 83
 
1990[63] United States House of Representatives 79 79
 
1992[64] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
1992[65] United States Presidency 77 77
 
1994[66] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
1996[67] United States House of Representatives 86 86
 
1996[68] United States Presidency 85 85
 
1998[69] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
2000[70] United States House of Representatives 89 89
 
2000[118] United States Presidency 87 87
 
2002[72] United States House of Representatives 90 90
 
2004[73] United States House of Representatives 91 91
 
2004[74] United States Presidency 89 89
 
2006[75] United States House of Representatives 93 93
 
2008[76] United States House of Representatives 93 93
 
2008[77] United States Presidency 89 89
 
2010[78] United States House of Representatives 93 93
 
2012[79] United States House of Representatives 94 94
 
2012[80] United States Presidency 92 92
 
2014[81] United States House of Representatives 93 93
 
2016[82] United States Presidency 89 89
 
2016[83] United States House of Representatives 92 92
 
2018[84] United States House of Representatives 95 95
 
2020[85] United States Presidency 94 94
 
2020[86] United States House of Representatives 95 95
 

Women

Representative Val Demings
Representative Val Demings
National exit polling among women
Year Branch % of Democratic women vote
1976[55] United States Presidency 52 52
 
1980[56] United States Presidency 46 46
 
1982[57] United States House of Representatives 58 58
 
1984[58] United States House of Representatives 54 54
 
1984[59] United States Presidency 42 42
 
1986[60] United States House of Representatives 54 54
 
1988[61] United States House of Representatives 57 57
 
1988[62] United States Presidency 49 49
 
1990[63] United States House of Representatives 54 54
 
1992[64] United States House of Representatives 55 55
 
1992[65] United States Presidency 45 45
 
1994[66] United States House of Representatives 53 53
 
1996[67] United States House of Representatives 55 55
 
1996[68] United States Presidency 55 55
 
1998[69] United States House of Representatives 53 53
 
2000[70] United States House of Representatives 54 54
 
2000[118] United States Presidency 54 54
 
2002[72] United States House of Representatives 50 50
 
2004[73] United States House of Representatives 53 53
 
2004[74] United States Presidency 51 51
 
2006[75] United States House of Representatives 56 56
 
2008[76] United States House of Representatives 57 57
 
2008[77] United States Presidency 56 56
 
2010[78] United States House of Representatives 49 49
 
2012[79] United States House of Representatives 56 56
 
2012[80] United States Presidency 55 55
 
2014[81] United States House of Representatives 52 52
 
2016[82] United States Presidency 54 54
 
2016[83] United States House of Representatives 54 54
 
2018[84] United States House of Representatives 59 59
 
2020[85] United States Presidency 57 57
 
2020[86] United States House of Representatives 57 57
 

See also

Republican Party
Libertarian Party

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