Democrats, and independents who lean Democratic, tend to say that they don't want candidates of the Democratic Party to become either more or less liberal than they are now. 49% want them to remain about the same, while only 26% want Democratic candidates to become more liberal. 10% want Democratic candidates to become less liberal.And yet:
Among Republicans and Republican leaning independents, however, 46% want their candidates to become more conservative. 32% say that they want the candidates to stay about the same, while 13% want them to be less conservative.
Asked whether each party had become more ideologically exteme in recent years, the broader public tend to think that Democrats, not Republicans, have moved further away from the center ground. 42% of Americans, including 21% of Democrats, think that the Democratic Party has become more liberal in the past few years. 33% say it has remained the same while only 7% think it has become less liberal.So there's no pressure in the Democratic Party for candidates to be more liberal (which explains while Hillary Clinton is dominating the polls), but there's intense pressure on Republicans to just keep going further and further right. The fact that a lot of them have been doing just that is completely lost on most Americans. In particular, it's lost on Republicans themselves:
When it comes to the Republican Party, Americans are effectively split as to whether they have become more conservative (30%) or remained the same (28%) in recent years, while 19% think that Republicans have become less conservative.
Republicans tend to think that the party has remained the same (46%) in recent years, but a third (32%) do think that the party has become less conservative in recent years.Why do so many people think the Democratic Party is careening toward the extreme left? Um, could it be because the right-wing media sets the tone of all discussions of this question? Could it be that even though the mainstream press doesn't completely echo the right on this, the right's "socialism"-baiting of Obama influences MSM coverage, and thus public opinion overall?
Or is it just that the president is black?
But that wouldn't explain why so few people realize that the GOP is trending rightward. I'd say that people believe it isn't because (a) the right-wing media urges its audience to think the GOP is never conservative enough, and because (b) the MSM is always looking for evidence that the crazies in the GOP aren't really representative of the party, so mainstream journalists emphasize any glimmers of Republican reasonableness, and treat extreme GOP behavior as the work of a few bad, unrepresentative apples.
And so one party has gone nearly all the way to the edge, and is being urged to go farther. One hasn't gone far enough, and everyone thinks it's gone too far. And there's no sign this will change anytime soon.