By Jim Ellis
Feb. 26, 2021 — Echelon Insights just completed a national issues survey (Feb. 12-18; 1,005 US registered voters) testing Democrats and Republicans about the current events of greatest concern. The analysis reveals particularly deep divisions between the two parties upon respondents from each group being segmented, but there were some areas of agreement.
The pollsters first asked the aggregate group about several issues to gauge the individuals’ degree of concern. They found that economic damage from COVID-19 was the issue of gravest anxiety, with 74 percent of the respondents answering they are extremely or very concerned.
Next, was the spread of COVID-19 infections (69 percent extremely or very concerned); budget deficits and the national debt (58 percent); COVID-19 school closures (56 percent); COVID-19 lockdown policies (54 percent); climate change (45 percent); income inequality (42 percent); and the cancel culture (35 percent).
In some of these issue areas, we actually see a degree of agreement between respondents of the two parties. On the COVID economic damages question, 77 percent of Democrats responded extremely or very concerned as did 75 percent of Republicans. The issue of school closures also found similar responses. A total of 64 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Democrats said they were extremely or very concerned.
Examining the issues of the COVID lockdowns and national debt, the party respondents fell apart, but are relatively within the same realm. Among Republicans, 66 percent said they are extremely or very concerned about the lockdowns; 50 percent of Democrats concurred. On the national debt issue, 67 percent of Republican and 50 percent of Democrats answered extremely or very concerned.
Their differences, however, were stark. Regarding the spread of COVID-19 infections, 87 percent of Democrats answered extremely or very concerned as opposed to 55 percent of Republicans. The cancel culture was of great concern to 48 percent of Republicans, but only 23 percent of Democrats.
Income inequality and climate change yielded similar opposite intensities. A total of 71 percent of Democrats answered affirmatively to being extremely or very concerned about climate change, but only 23 percent of Republicans responded similarly. Almost the same break occurred for the income inequality issue with 68 percent of Democrats signaling strong concern as compared to only 19 percent of Republicans who share those same feelings.
When the segmented open-ended questions to individual cells of Democrats and Republicans were asked for their issue priorities, we see the greatest division between the parties.
For Democrats, the first response was the COVID-19 infections, about which 87 percent of the group answered they are extremely or very concerned. A fear of Donald Trump supporters was second, scoring 82 percent in the extremely or very concerned categories. White nationalism (79 percent extremely, very); systemic racism (77 percent); and economic damages from COVID-19 (77 percent) rounded out the top five open-ended responses.
Among Republicans, we see a completely different focus. Illegal immigration was first within this group, as 81 percent responded extremely or very concerned. Lack of support for the police was next with 79 percent saying extremely or very concerned, while high taxes posted a 77 percent response. Liberal bias in the media and COVID-19 economic damage were next, both recording 75 percent in the extremely and very concerned segments.
The differences, however, were not just among Democrats and Republicans. The pollsters also segmented the Trump Republicans and compared them with those they termed the “party-first” Republicans.
The biggest difference among the party-first Republicans and the Trump Republicans was the response to the existence of election fraud. A total of 87 percent of Trump Republicans are extremely or very concerned about election fraud, but only 52 percent of party-first Republicans answered similarly.
Socialism was another such area. In terms of being extremely or very concerned, 86 percent of Trump Republicans agree that the country drifting toward socialism is extremely or very concerning. A total of 66 percent of party-first Republicans agreed.
A general moral decline within the country was extremely or very concerning to 86 percent of Trump Republicans, as compared to 70 percent of party-first Republicans. Tech company censorship also produced a relatively wide gap. Among Trump Republicans, 77 percent said they are extremely or very concerned about tech company curtailing free speech, while only 59 percent of party-first Republicans agreed.
As we can see, a vast area of disagreement exists within the country. This is not uncommon throughout history, but within modern era politics, it is interesting to see the party regular members holding such extremely different perspective points. It tells us that once again we are headed for another contentious political season come 2022.