When it comes to politics, Americans are often told that they are either conservative, liberal, or somewhere in the middle. But this three-way split in political ideology may be misleading. In fact, a growing number of studies suggest that political identification is more complex than simply categorizing oneself as a Republican, Democrat, or independent.
The Democratic Party is one of the two most prominent political parties in America, and it is largely associated with liberalism. Liberalism is a broad political philosophy that encompasses a range of views, from gender equality to freedom of speech. Those who identify as liberal support points of view that are in favor of equality and the reduction of poverty.
In the study we conducted, many participants framed their ideological identity in terms of progress toward a shared representation of a better way of life. These participants often used the term “liberal” to describe themselves in this sense, but they were less likely than other groups to link their political ideology to a specific issue or policy.
The shift in ideology among Democrats is largely due to a sharp leftward movement among white, non-Hispanic members of the party. These voters have become more consistent in their liberalism over the past few years, and they are now as likely to take the liberal position on most policy issues as Republicans are to take the conservative one. Nonetheless, the partisan-ideological divide remains large on some specific policy issues, especially when it comes to issues involving the treatment of minorities.