Are Democratic Voters Actually Divided by Ideology?

The 4 Democratic candidates on the high of the polls heading into the Iowa caucuses have been paired by pundits into what they wish to name lanes. It’s a freeway analogy, as in “keep in your lane.” One, seen as extra progressive and liberal, incorporates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The opposite, consisting of Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, is extra centrist and reasonable.

However do most voters really assume this fashion? Our analysis suggests in any other case. Ideological labels — whether or not individuals consider themselves as a liberal or reasonable — do distinguish candidates’ supporters. However on the subject of specifics, most Democratic voters have remarkably related views on insurance policies and prioritize these points in roughly the identical methods.

We interviewed greater than 150,000 individuals across the nation, tens of hundreds of whom intend to vote within the Democratic primaries and caucuses. Our information come from the Democracy Fund + U.C.L.A. Nationscape Challenge and embody questions on 41 insurance policies presently being debated. The information span the final six months and canopy points like whether or not to extend taxes on households incomes greater than $250,000 a yr, or whether or not transgender individuals must be prohibited from serving within the army.

As we checked out similarities and variations of views amongst Democratic supporters of six candidates searching for the presidential nomination for president, we discovered a formidable quantity of consensus, no matter whom they help.

Along with asking individuals whether or not they agree with coverage outcomes, all of them additionally answered a sequence of questions that allowed us to measure the significance they connect to every problem. Right here’s how that labored: Every particular person noticed two randomly chosen collections of as much as 4 coverage positions, and we requested them to decide on which assortment of outcomes they most popular. All of them did this 10 occasions and, in the middle of doing so, revealed which positions they prioritized and which of them have been comparatively much less necessary.

We in contrast the outcomes throughout supporters of the 4 Iowa front-runners, in addition to Amy Klobuchar (though we had much less information on her supporters). Regardless of variations within the demographics of people that help them and their ideological labels, there have been few variations within the beliefs and priorities of the candidates’ supporters.

All the candidates’ supporters wished to question Mr. Trump and positioned that problem within the high 5 priorities among the many 41 issues we requested about. (We wrote in regards to the prominence of this beforehand.) However it isn’t the one factor Democratic voters agree on.

All the candidates’ supporters imagine that stopping a whole ban on abortion is a high precedence, with help starting from 82 p.c amongst Ms. Klobuchar’s backers to 91 p.c for Mr. Buttigieg’s, and with priorities starting from first to fourth in significance.

Not separating youngsters from their households on the border is a well-liked problem, too. When it comes to priorities, it’s crucial problem for supporters of Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Sanders and is available in second for Mr. Biden’s voters, fourth for Ms. Warren’s group and eighth for Ms. Klobuchar’s.

Different high points with great help amongst these candidates’ backers and with high-priority standing embody not constructing a border wall, not banning Muslims from coming into the nation, providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants often called Dreamers and doing background checks earlier than gun purchases.

Maybe surprisingly, one factor that’s not a high precedence for anybody’s supporters is well being care. We provided voters 4 probabilities to prioritize well being care by asking them about enacting ‘Medicare for all”; offering all People with the choice to purchase government-run medical health insurance; subsidizing medical health insurance for lower-income individuals not receiving Medicare or Medicaid; and offering government-run medical health insurance to all People.

Enacting Medicare for all is the one health-related coverage that voters put within the high half of the 41 points we requested about, however there weren’t vital variations throughout the candidate teams: Nobody’s supporters put it within the high 10.

Mr. Sanders’s supporters could place barely extra significance on subsidizing low-income well being care relative to the others, and Ms. Warren’s supporters be part of them with respect to the significance of offering government-run insurance coverage to everybody, however these variations are usually not large, and the problems nonetheless rank decrease than many different insurance policies.

A couple of fascinating variations emerged. The fifth-most necessary problem for Mr. Buttigieg’s supporters is investing in an enormous, technology-based answer to local weather change — one thing that every one Democratic voters need (nearly 90 p.c throughout all of the candidates’ supporters) however that no different bloc thinks is a precedence. Equally, supporters of Ms. Klobuchar stood out by rating 12 weeks of paid maternity depart as crucial problem.

However examples like these have been uncommon. When most individuals agree on insurance policies, vote alternative could largely activate different elements, like a notion that a candidate is extra devoted to combating for these insurance policies; the likelihood of beating an incumbent president within the common election; a want to give a brand new era the possibility to run issues; the hope of placing a girl within the White Home.

In fact, similarities throughout voters on coverage preferences don’t suggest similarities throughout candidates, and a few voters will care in regards to the distinctions even when, on common, everybody’s supporters need the identical issues. What’s clear is that insurance policies aren’t driving division amongst many of the supporters of those candidates. If there’s a combat for the way forward for the Democratic Occasion, it doesn’t seem like taking part in out when it comes to what voters need from their authorities. On that, regardless of whom they might vote for within the main, Democratic voters seem like driving on a one-lane street.

Lynn Vavreck, the Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Coverage at U.C.L.A., is a co-author of “Id Disaster: The 2016 Presidential Marketing campaign and the Battle for the That means of America.” Observe her on Twitter at @vavreck.

Chris Tausanovitch is an affiliate professor at U.C.L.A.’s political science division. Observe him on Twitter at @ctausanovitch.

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