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Poll: More Americans see Democratic positions on climate, health care, abortion as 'in the mainstream'

Republicans are seen as more in line on issues of taxes and spending.
Image: The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen behind the smokestack from the Capitol Power Plant
The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen behind the emissions, and a smokestack, from the Capitol Power Plant, the only coal-burning power plant in the nation's capitol.Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA file

WASHINGTON — More Americans see the Democratic Party’s positions on climate change, health care, abortion and immigration as being “in the mainstream” than the Republican Party’s positions on those issues, a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal finds.

And on fiscal issues like taxes and spending, a similar share of Americans — about half — view the Democratic and Republican parties as being in the mainstream.

The most striking difference between views of the two parties’ positions comes on the issue of climate change. More than half of Americans — 56 percent — say the Democratic Party’s views on climate change are within the mainstream, while 35 percent disagree.

But less than a third — 29 percent — say that the Republican Party’s views on climate change are in the mainstream, while 63 percent say they are “out of the mainstream.”

Republicans are also largely seen as being outside of the mainstream on health care.

A majority — 56 percent — call the Democratic Party’s positions on health care as in the mainstream, while just 41 percent say the same of the Republican Party’s position on the issue. Fifty-two percent describe the GOP’s health care stance as out of the mainstream.

While Democrats have a similar advantage over Republicans on the issue of abortion, recent public debate about proposals to expand late-term abortion in Virginia and elsewhere appears to have somewhat dampened the perception that the party’s positions are in the mainstream.

In 2015, 54 percent of Americans viewed Democratic positions on abortion as being in the mainstream, while 34 percent disagreed — a 20 point difference.

In the latest poll, that’s down to a 10-point difference, with 51 percent calling Democratic policy positions on abortion in the mainstream and 41 percent saying they are out of the mainstream.

While Democrats appear to have lost some ground on the issue, Republicans still lag behind. Just 38 percent call the GOP’s position on abortion in the mainstream, while 54 percent disagree.

Republicans also lag when it comes to immigration, which President Donald Trump has made into the defining issue of his presidency.

Forty-five percent of Americans say the GOP’s immigration policies are in the mainstream, while 50 percent disagree.

For Democrats, it’s 52 percent saying the party’s immigration policies are in the mainstream, while 42 percent disagree.

The issue for which the greatest share of Americans see the GOP in the mainstream is fiscal policy.

Equal shares — 47 percent apiece — say the Republican Party’s positioning on fiscal policy is inside and outside of the mainstream.

But those shares are almost identical to how the Democratic Party’s positions on fiscal policy are viewed, with 46 percent calling those positions in the mainstream and 47 percent disagreeing.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll was conducted February 24-27, 2019. The margin of error for 900 respondents is +/- 3.27 percentage points.