Americans are more divided now along political lines than at any time in the past quarter century, according to a new report from Pew Research Center.
The increased polarization has occurred during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies.
The report said that “both parties have become smaller and more ideologically homogeneous.”
“Republicans are most distinguished by their increasingly minimalist views about the role of government and lack of support for environmentalism,” read the report. “Democrats have become more socially liberal and secular.”
The “social safety net” marks one of the issues where the two major parties are far apart.
Since 2007, Republican support for the view that the government has a responsibility to care for those unable to care for themselves has dropped 18 points.
Pew also found that Democrats are now more secular in terms of their belief in God.
“The proportion of Democrats saying they never doubt God’s existence has fallen 11 points over the past decade. Among white Democrats, the decline has been 17 points – from 85% in 2002 to 68% currently,” said the report.
Republicans have maintained a consistent belief in God from 1987 to 2012 with 92 percent “saying they never doubt God’s existence.”
Only 60 percent of Democrats hold to “old-fashioned values about family and marriage,” down from 86 percent in 1987.
The God-gap between Democrats and Republicans increased “dramatically when only white non-Hispanics” are considered.
More white evangelicals identify themselves as Republicans, having increased from 40 percent in 1994 to 49 percent in 2012.
During the same time period, white evangelical identification with the Democratic Party has dropped from an estimated 26 percent to 18 percent.
White Catholic affiliation with the Democratic Party has dropped from 32 percent in 1994 to 28 percent in 2012.
Another divisive issue is immigration.
Pew said, “Overall, about as many agree (46%) as disagree (48%) that ‘the growing number of newcomers from other countries threaten traditional American customs and values.'”
In terms of race and ethnicity, 61 percent of African-Americans see immigrants as a “threat to American values,” compared to 48 percent of whites and 29 percent of Hispanics.