Article written by O. Kay Henderson of news partner Radio Iowa
More than 745,000 Republicans and 373,000 Democrats participated in South Carolina’s presidential primaries this past February. But a new national survey indicates those partisans are likely to have a pretty negative view of people who’re in the opposing party.
“We knew that people had grown to increasingly dislike the opposing party. The question we had was: ‘Is it getting personal?’ And, to a degree, it is,” says Carroll Doherty, political research director for the Pew Research Center.
The Pew Center’s new research shows 70 percent of Democrats consider Republicans “closed-minded” — while 46 percent of Republicans think Democrats are “lazier” than Republicans. Doherty says fear of what the other party might do with power is a big motivator.
“The bottom line is that negativity is kind of more powerful than positive feelings and negativity is driving a lot of political engagement these days,” Doherty says. “And the people who are the most negative are the most highly engaged, so there’s a real connection there.”
So-called “independent” voters make up a large segment of adults who are registered to cast a ballot in November, but Doherty says most of those independents tend to favor candidates of one party over the other.
“They are more or less closet partisans and they feel very negatively about the opposing party,” Doherty says. “In other words, if they lean towards a party as most independents do — either lean towards the Republican or the Democratic Party — they don’t want to affiliate because they don’t have a particularly fond view of that party, but they also dislike the other side even more.”
The center’s latest survey found 47 percent of Republicans consider Democrats to be “more immoral” and 55 percent of Democrats say the Republican Party makes them “afraid.”
The Pew Research Center survey released late last month found 68 percent of Democrats give Trump a “zero” rating — the very end of the negative scale, while 59 percent of Republicans rate Clinton a zero.