Generally speaking, liberals believe in freedom and equality for all. This can be seen in their views on a number of issues, from women’s rights to gay marriage. They also tend to be more pro-environment and support programs that aid individuals, such as social welfare.
Democrats, on the other hand, are associated with progressive policies and believe in a strong government that can provide a safety net for its citizens, such as Medicaid and food stamps. They also typically believe in more liberal economic policies, such as higher taxes on the rich to help fund these services.
While it’s easy to think of Democrat and Republican as synonymous with liberalism and conservatism, political parties change over time, and the terms haven’t always been used interchangeably. During the 19th century, for example, Republicans supported slavery, while today’s party stands against it and advocates for civil rights and reforms that can improve the lives of historically disadvantaged groups.
According to Gallup’s latest data, more Democratic voters — including White Democrats — now identify as liberal than in the past. This trend has some observers worried about a growing racial divide within the party, as nonwhite voters have traditionally been less likely to self-identify as liberal. Meanwhile, moderates have been slipping, and conservatives have been gaining ground. However, the leftward movement of liberals among White Democrats is particularly notable. On a scale of one to seven, where one represents the most liberal and seven the most conservative, White Democrats have moved to a point nearly halfway between the two extremes, with a mean score of 3.8.