- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2005

Republicans are much more positive about their party leadership’s performance than Democrats are about their national leaders, according to a survey of this year’s national political landscape.

A nationwide poll by the Pew Research Center to measure the political direction of the country in the aftermath of the 2004 election found that both parties faced political fissures over various issues in their base of support, but that liberal Democrats were much more critical of the people who run their party.

“While both parties receive favorable ratings from their base, Republicans are much more positive about the performance of GOP leaders than Democrats are about their party leadership,” according to the Pew poll.

The survey found that about half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents “say GOP leaders are doing an excellent or good job of standing up for traditional party positions.”

“By contrast, just a third of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents give party leaders high marks in standing up for traditional Democratic positions, such as helping the needy, representing working people, and protecting the interests of minorities,” Pew said in its annual survey report called “Mapping the Political Landscape 2005.”

Significantly, liberals, who make up the biggest bloc of Democrats, “are particularly negative in their assessment of the Democratic Party leadership. Just 23 percent of liberals say the leaders are doing an excellent or good job in standing up for key party stances, while 76 percent rate their performance as only fair (55 percent) or poor (21 percent).

The 172-page Pew study said that both parties had internal policy disagreements, but found that Democrats were particularly divided over social issues, some of which drew strong majority support among the electorate at large.

“Their constituencies are more diverse and, while united in opposition to President Bush, the Democrats are fractured by differences over social and personal values,” the report said.

Pew found, for example, that strong majorities of Americans favored the display of the Ten Commandments in public places (71 percent) and the teaching of creationism in public schools (57 percent).

Among Democrats, however, 61 percent of liberals said they were opposed to publicly displaying the Ten Commandments, while about half of the party’s groups identified as liberals and “disadvantaged Democrats” were opposed to the teaching of creationism in public schools.

On the issue of homosexual “marriage,” 74 percent of conservative Democrats were opposed to same-sex “marriage,” but 80 percent of liberals said they favored it.

Pew also found that majorities in all the political groups it polled “consider the United States to be ‘a Christian nation,’ with 71 percent overall saying that it is. Liberals and Disadvantaged Democrats are least likely to agree, but even among these groups, 57 percent say the U.S. is a Christian nation.”

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