Americans Divided by Party and Ideology

ISI asked respondents two questions to determine their political orientation: Are you a Democrat, Independent, Republican, or something else? Are you liberal, moderate, or conservative? A respondent’s combined answer was then assigned an appropriate relative position on a scale of 1 through 5, with self-identified Democrat liberals placed at 5 and Republican conservatives placed at 1. Between these poles, Democrat moderates and Independent liberals were placed at 4 (left-leaning moderates); Democrat conservatives, Independent moderates, and Republican liberals were placed at 3 (Independent moderates); and Republican moderates and Independent conservatives were placed at 2 (right-leaning moderates).

The average American political orientation score was a 2.92 on this scale, just slightly to the right of political center.*

*See appendix for variables that significantly influence Americans’ political orientation.

Below is a percentage breakdown of the American population according to ISI’s political orientation categories:

Political Orientation** % of U.S. Population
5 Democrat liberals 12.9
4 Left-leaning moderates 19.2
3 Independent moderates 21.9
2 Right-leaning moderates 14.0
1 Republican conservatives 19.1

** 12.9% of respondents, when asked their party identity or political ideology, indicated either “something else,” “no preference,” “don’t know,” or “refuse to answer.”