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45% Say Democrats, Republicans in Congress Are Extreme

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A plurality of voters now thinks the agendas of both major political parties in Congress are equally extreme. 

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 45% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the agenda of congressional Republicans is extreme, and the identical number (45%) say the same of congressional Democrats. Thirty-seven percent (37%) think the GOP agenda is mainstream, while 38% feel that's true of the agenda followed by Democrats in Congress. When it comes to the Republicans, 18% are not sure, and 17% are undecided about the Democratic congressional agenda. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This is the first time in regular surveying since August of last year that voters have rated the congressional agendas of the two parties so closely alike.  Voters consistently said the Democratic agenda in Congress was more extreme than the Republican agenda until early August of this year. That's when they began viewing the GOP agenda as more extreme. Over the past 16 months, 44% to 57% of voters have rated the Democratic agenda as extreme, while 38% to 49% have described the Republican agenda that way. 

But voters continue to see the two parties as poles apart ideologically. Fifty-four percent (54%) view the average Democrat in Congress as more liberal than they are, while a plurality (46%) regards the average congressional Republican as more conservative than they are. This is consistent with surveys for several months now. 

Only 12% feel the average congressional Democrat is more conservative than they are, while 25% say their views are about the same. Conversely, 23% think the average Republican in Congress is more liberal than they are, while 21% feel they share about the same views. 

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The national survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on December 6-7, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology

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