By the numbers: Understanding shifts in Democratic Party ideology

The increase in Democrats’ self-identification as liberal is seen among various subgroups within the party. However, this has occurred to differing degrees among men, women, young adults, seniors, people of varying education levels and the different major racial/ethnic groups.

Increased liberal identification has been particularly pronounced among non-Hispanic white Democrats, rising 20 percentage points from an average 34% in the early 2000s to 54% in the latest period. By contrast, Gallup trends show a nine-point rise in the percent liberal among Hispanic Democrats, from 29% to 38%, and an eight-point increase among black Democrats, from 25% to 33%.

Democrats’ ideology has long varied by education level, with more-highly educated Democrats significantly more likely to identify as liberal than those with lower education levels. That pattern has persisted since 2001-2006, though one education group — those with a college degree only — has shifted more than the others. The percentage liberal has gone up 16 points among Democrats with a college degree only, 13 points among postgraduates, 12 points among those who have attended some college and 10 points among those with no college education.

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