With Democrats holding the upper hand in Washington, D.C., but Republicans dominating local political leadership, Tennessee voters from both sides of the aisle do not think their party should give ground, according to the latest Middle Tennessee State University poll.
Democrats tend to think the Republican Party should get more moderate, while the Democratic Party stays ideologically put. But Republicans generally want the Democratic Party to get more moderate, while the Republican Party becomes more conservative.
“Democrats want their party to dig in, and Republicans want their party to double down,” said professor Ken Blake, director of the MTSU Poll. “Practically, nobody thinks their party and the other one should meet halfway.”
Of the Democrats polled, 39 percent thought the Democratic Party should “stick with its current political positions,” 24 percent thought it should “adopt political positions that are more moderate,” 16 percent thought it should “adopt political positions that are more liberal,” 17 percent didn’t know, and the rest declined to answer.
By contrast, 43 percent of the Republicans polled thought the GOP should “adopt political positions that are more conservative,” while 24 percent thought the party should stick with its current positions, 17 percent thought the party should become more moderate, and 13 percent didn’t know. The rest declined to answer.
Meanwhile, members of each party think the other party should become more moderate.
A 45 percent plurality of Democrats think the Republican Party should get more moderate, while a 48 percent plurality of Republicans think the Democratic Party should get more moderate.
“Democrats may see President (Barack) Obama’s 2012 victory as a mandate for their party’s positions, while Republicans may feel emboldened by their party’s near sweep of the same election’s state-level contests,” Blake said. “Whatever the reasons, it’s clear that there’s not much willingness to compromise.”
Self-described independents most resemble the Republican view, with a 45 percent plurality saying Democrats should become more moderate -- nearly splitting between the 38 percent who say Republicans should become more moderate and the 30 percent who think they should become more conservative.
Only about 15 percent of Tennesseans think both parties should become more moderate, a position held by 23 percent of independents, 15 percent of Democrats, and 9 percent of Republicans.
A 39 percent plurality of Tennesseans describe themselves as independents, while 28 percent self-identify as Republicans, and 25 percent consider themselves Democrats.
Poll data were collected from Feb. 11–19 via telephone interviews of 650 Tennessee adults conducted by Issues and Answers Network Inc. using balanced, random samples of Tennessee landline and cell phones. The data were weighted to match the latest available census estimates of gender and race proportions in Tennessee.
For previous releases on the spring 2013 poll, visit http://mtsusurveygroup.org.