A large number of Americans identify as Democrat or Republican because they think the other party is harmful to the country.
According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 71 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats are negatively motivated because they think the other side’s policies are bad. That compares to 76 percent and 72 percent respectively who identify with a party because they think the polices are good for the country.
Furthermore, the survey found 51 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of Republicans say having a lot in common with other members of the party is a reason to identify with that party. Democrats and Republicans were about even, 36 percent and 37 percent respectively, in saying they identify the way they do because they have little in common with members of the other party.
Loyalty to party is a bigger driver among Democrats than it is for Republicans by 37 percent to 25 percent.
For those who don’t fully identify with a party, but lean toward one, 58 percent of Republican-leaning and 57 percent of Democratic leaners say belief that the other party’s policies are harmful is the most cited reason for leaning either way. That compares to 42 percent of Republican leaners and 34 percent of Democratic leaners who cite the positive impact of the party as a reason to lean one way or the other.
Negative motivation for identifying with a political party appears to be causing more Americans to call themselves independent. For example, in 2015, a Gallup poll found 43 percent of Americans said they were independent. That was the highest since they started asking in 1988.
That same poll found that 30 percent of those polled called themselves Democrats as opposed to 26 percent for Republicans.