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These 15 charts illustrate the U.S.'s growing partisan divide

These 15 charts illustrate the U.S.'s growing partisan divide

If it seems the partisan gap between Democrats and Republicans has grown during the presidential administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump, that's because it has. New Gallup polling research illustrates the widening chasm on 15 issues, a steady gap on six issues and a narrowing gap on three:  

"The ever-widening gulf between the views of Republicans and Democrats is one of the most significant trends to emerge in U.S. society in the past two decades," says the Gallup report, released Aug. 3. "This trend is most evident in presidential approval ratings, but a new Gallup analysis finds that political polarization also exists in Americans' opinions on many other issues."

The baseline year for the polling was typically 2000, the last for Democrat Bill Clinton as president, or 2001, the first for Republican Bush. Polling continued through the Bush administration and that of Democrat Obama, with the most recent surveys as Republican Trump was ascending in 2016 and taking office in 2017.

The biggest splits:

  • The federal government has too much power -- Republicans (39 percent) and Democrats (37 percent) were close in saying this in 2002. By 2016, however, the two-point gap had exploded to 44 points, almost all because of changing Republican opinion.

  • Worry "a great deal" or "a fair amount" about global warming -- The 14-point gap in 2000 expanded to 49 points in 2017.

Where are Democrats and Republicans finding common ground? Here are three issues:

  • Rate U.S. health care excellent or good -- The 21-point gap in 2001 had disappeared by 2016.

  • Think U.S. needs a third major political party -- In 2006, the gap was 20 points. In 2016, it was five points.

  • Outlaw smoking in public places -- There was a seven-point difference in 2001, two points in 2017.