July 24, 2016 at 12:26 pm ET
Much has been made of division within the Democratic Party as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spent the presidential primary attacking Hillary Clinton from the left. But a new Morning Consult survey shows voters are considerably more united than their Republican counterparts.
They also choose President Obama as their favorite among historical Democrats and leader who best reflects the party’s values now.
About one out of four registered Democrats (24 percent) said their party has pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track, compared with almost half of Republicans (46 percent). Almost six out of 10 Democrats (59 percent) said the party is going in the right direction, and 17 percent said they didn’t know or had no opinion. By comparison, less than half of Republicans (40 percent) said their party is on the right track.
Older Democrats were the most likely voters to support the direction of the party: 72 percent of registered Democrats aged 65 or older said the party was going in the right direction, compared with 53 percent of Democrats aged 18 to 29.
Some hard-line liberals have insisted that Democratic party leaders are too tepid in their quest for pushing the party to loftier progressive ideals. But that doesn’t show among a healthy majority of Democrats. Almost three-fourths of Democrats (71 percent) agreed with the statement that their party is “forward looking.” Again, younger Democrats were slightly more pessimistic than older Democrats. Almost seven in 10 voters aged 18 to 44 said the party was forward looking, compared with 82 percent of those aged 55-64 and 71 percent of seniors. The youngest Democrats surveyed were also twice as likely as the oldest Democrats likely to call the party backward looking.
About one-third of Democrats (31 percent) also agree that the Democratic Party is conservative. About the same percentage (28 percent) disagree that the party is liberal. It’s unclear whether those people think the party isn’t forceful enough on pushing a more progressive agenda or if they identify with a party that they view as somewhat conservative.
Still, most of Morning Consult’s polling results won’t have Democratic leaders battening down the hatches. More than three-fourths of Democrats believe the party cares about the poor (78 percent) and the middle class (81 percent). More than half (54 percent) say the party cares about the rich.
And despite rhetoric from the right casting Clinton as a candidate of the past, only 22 percent of Democrats say they think their party is stale. A healthy majority (57 percent) say their party is fresh.
On a personal level, most Democratic voters seem to trust their party. About three-fourths of registered Democrats think the party cares about people like them (77 percent) and represents their views (75 percent). Democrats also believe that their party will stick to its core values (72 percent).
In terms of governing, most Democrats say their party is capable of governing (77 percent) and willing to compromise (76 percent).
Much of the good feeling about the Democratic party seems to be rooted in the popularity of its current standard bearer, President Obama. More than one-third of Democrats (36 percent) chose Obama among several current leaders as the official that best reflects the party’s values. After Obama, Democratic respondents chose Hillary Clinton as the person who best reflects the party’s values, at 24 percent.
Obama also beats out modern historical Democratic presidents as Democrats’ favorite, at 31 percent. John F. Kennedy comes in second, at 24 percent. Bill Clinton (18 percent) and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (12 percent) are the only other Democratic presidents that are the favorites of a measurable chunk of the party.
With Obama expected to hit the trail with Clinton and her campaign after the convention, Democrats are confident of her chances of besting Donald Trump in November; 76 percent of Democrats think she’ll win. That may be par for the course with party members. Almost seven out of 10 GOP voters (68 percent) think their nominee will win.
The poll was conducted July 8-10 among a national sample of 2,001 respondents. The data reported in this story reflects responses from 730 self-identified Democratic voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.