A Deep Dive Into Party Affiliation

Pew Research, April 7, 2015

Democrats hold advantages in party identification among blacks, Asians, Hispanics, well-educated adults and Millennials. Republicans have leads among whites–particularly white men, those with less education and evangelical Protestants–as well as members of the Silent Generation.

A new analysis of long-term trends in party affiliation among the public provides a detailed portrait of where the parties stand among various groups in the population. It draws on more than 25,000 interviews conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2014, which allows examination of partisan affiliation across even relatively small racial, ethnic, educational and income subgroups. {snip}

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Party ID by race, education

There continue to be stark divisions in partisan leaning by race and ethnicity: Fully 64% of blacks identify as Democrats, compared with 25% of whites. Whites are far more likely than blacks to describe themselves as independents (40% vs. 26%) or Republicans (30% vs. 5%).

As is the case with whites, Hispanics are more likely to describe themselves as independents (44%) than Democrats (34%) or Republicans (13%). More than twice as many Hispanics either affiliate with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic than identify as Republicans or lean toward the GOP (56% vs. 26%), based on interviews conducted in English and Spanish in 2014.

Party identification among Asian Americans has shown little change in recent years. Nearly half of Asian-Americans (46%) are political independents, 37% identify as Democrats while just 11% affiliate with the GOP. When the partisan leanings of independents are included, 65% of Asian Americans identify as Democrats or lean Democratic compared with just 23% who identify as Republicans or lean Republican. This data is based on interviews conducted in English.

Differences in partisan identification across educational categories have remained fairly stable in recent years, with one exception: Highly-educated people increasingly identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party.

About a third (34%) of those with a college degree or more education identify as Democrats, compared with 24% who identify as Republicans; 39% are independents. In 1992, Republicans held a seven-point lead among those with at least a college degree (34% to 27%), while 37% were independents.

Democrats now hold a 12-point lead (52% to 40%) in leaned party identification among those with at least a college degree, up from just a four-point difference as recently as 2010 (48% to 44%). There has been less change since 2010 in the partisan leanings of those with less education.

Currently, those who have attended college but have not received a degree lean Democratic 47% to 42%; Democrats hold a 10-point lead in leaned party identification among those with no more than a high school education (47% to 37%).

The Democrats’ wide lead in partisan identification among highly-educated adults is largely the result of a growing advantage among those with any post-graduate experience. A majority (56%) of those who have attended graduate school identify with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic, compared with 36% who align with or lean toward the GOP.

Among those who have received a college degree but have no post-graduate experience, 48% identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, while 43% affiliate with the GOP or lean Republican.

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