Skip to main content

7 graphics that show just how politically divided we have become

These make it easy to see how Democrats and Republicans are only getting farther apart.

The political divide in the United States has been an ever-present theme in recent elections and news reports.

And a new report from Pew Research Center shows just how vast the gap between conservatives and liberals has become.

You can take a look at the full report here. It breaks down the shifting ideological views around topics such as race and immigration, government aid to those in need, and the overall beliefs of each political party.

We've pulled out seven of the interesting graphics to show the divide – but there are many more in the full report.

1) How liberal and conservative Democrats and Republicans are

This is maybe the most visually striking of the graphics.

This chart shows where Democrats and Republicans stand ideologically based on 10 key issues, and marks where the average liberal/conservative falls. It's tracked from 1994 until now, and it's pretty clear how much farther apart everyone is.

In 1994, 23 percent of Republicans were actually more liberal than the median Democrat. Now, that number is down to just 1 percent.

It flipped the same way on the other end of the spectrum too. In 1994, 17 percent of Democrats were more conservative than the median Republican. That has shrunk to 5 percent now. 

2) Stances on the issues

Here you can see the different stances Republicans and Democrats tend to take on a variety of issues – from whether immigrants are a burden, to environmental regulations, to the efficiency of government. These are the 10 political value questions Pew uses to gauge ideology.

In every single case, the belief gap between members of the two parties is wider than it was in 1994. Even for something like views of homosexuality, which is much more accepted by both parties now.

3) Political party is the main divider

You might be wondering, "Is it possible we've become divided based on other qualities, like our age or race?" And yes it's possible, and happens. But political party is the main driver.

As this graph shows, there's an average gap of 36 percentage points on how Republicans respond to a question versus Democrats, a figure that's gone up since 1994. The average gap between respondents based on race, which is the second-largest? Just 14 percent. The gap in responses when divided by gender is 7 percent.

4) Views of immigrants

Way more Democrats (84 percent) think immigrants strengthen the country than Republicans (42 percent). But the younger you are, the more favorable toward immigrants you'll be, no matter which political party you're in line with.

More than 6 in 10 Republicans aged 18-29 say immigrants strengthen the U.S., the highest of any age demographic on the conservative side.

5) What's the deal with global warming?Depends who you ask

Republicans are nearly split on whether there is solid evidence of global warming, with 44 percent saying there isn't (either because there isn't enough evidence or it's "just not happening"), while 52 percent say there is solid evidence, but attributing it to natural patterns or human activity almost equally.

Democrats swing much farther to the "solid evidence" side, with 92 percent feeling that way. And of those, most attribute it to human activity.

6) Trump is more divisive than any previous recent president

Democrats don't like President Donald Trump. Only 8 percent approve of the job he's done in his first year on the job. Republicans are a whopping 80 percentage points higher, with 88 percent giving Trump the thumbs up.

That gap is the largest for any president in their first year over the past six decades.

7) Friend groups don't mix much

The kicker to all of this: not only are we extremely divided, we're not talking to each other much. (Yelling at one another on Twitter doesn't count.)

More than 1 in every 5 Democrats says they have no Republican friends, while 44 percent say they have "just a few."

Republicans are similarly divided, though slightly less so. About 14 percent say they have no Democrat friends, and 41 percent say they have "just a few."

Next Up

police lights

Man arrested after abduction attempt in Bemidji

The incident occurred in Cameron Park on June 25.

betty danger's

Betty Danger's in NE Minneapolis for sale for $4.2 million

The asking price includes the restaurant's ferris wheel, as well as a nearby single-family home.


Minnesota health officials warn monkeypox cases could grow rapidly

The state has so far confirmed only six cases of monkeypox virus.


Bodies of woman, three young children recovered from Vadnais Lake

Authorities say the bodies recovered were those of two boys, one girl and their mother.

Pixabay laptop keyboard phone dark

Charges: Duluth man had hundreds of child porn images, videos

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found nearly 330 images on the man's electronic devices.

hennepin county sheriff water patrol lake minnetonka

Scuba diver found dead in Lake Minnetonka identified as 20-year-old

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office said 20-year-old Brady Alan Aune, from Elko New Market, died of freshwater drowning on June 3.

Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 11.18.35 AM

Felony charges filed after authorities search 'Peacebunny Cottage'

The president of the rabbit rescue non-profit faces multiple animal cruelty charges after over 40 rabbits were found dead inside the organization's barn.

monkeypox virus

Minnesota up to 6 confirmed cases of monkeypox virus

Most people recover at home within 2-4 weeks.

thc edibles

Did Minnesota just accidentally legalize THC?

A Republican lawmaker who voted to approve the new law in May is already talking about rolling it back.

Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 3.19.42 PM

Gasoline may be cause of sewer explosion on U of M campus

An all-clear was given around 9 p.m. Thursday, with residents in the area allowed to return to their homes.


Overwhelming demand for THC products on first day of new law in MN

One shop owner said his Chaska store broke the online sales record before they opened Friday morning.


Al Franken's political fall came as fast as his rise to Senate stardom

Franken seemed to defy fate by winning a U.S. Senate seat – yet would reach political stardom anyway.

What Minnesota's U.S. lawmakers have said about Trump's immigration order

What Minnesota' U.S. lawmakers have said about Donald Trump's executive order restricting travel and refugees.

Jeff Sessions becomes attorney general – Franken, Klobuchar vote no

Every Republican voted in favor of Jeff Sessions, while all but one Democrat voted against him.

Al Franken has to change a lot of minds if he wants to win back Minnesotans' trust

The senator vows he'll make amends – but recent polls show serious damage to his public standing.

Planned Parenthood brings 87K petitions to Paul Ryan

The group could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding if a proposal from House Republican leaders gets approved.

Franken and Klobuchar will support a Neil Gorsuch filibuster

Here's how Democrats will try to block Neil Gorsuch – and how Republicans could get around it.

What is DACA, and who are 'Dreamers?'

We explain what the program is, how it started, and who it affects.

Fringe MN governor candidate refuses to acknowledge Islam as a faith

"It sends a message to his supporters that Minnesota is only for a certain population, and that excludes Muslims," one woman says.