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Survey: Voters increasingly feel Dems represent their views

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 4/17/2017 Eliza Collins

© Provided by USA Today

Republicans enjoy a majority in both chambers of Congress and have a GOP president. Yet a new Pew Research survey out Monday finds that Americans increasingly feel it’s Democrats who better represent their views on a number of key issues.

Voters feel that Democrats are better at handling foreign policy, 49%-36%. Last year, Republicans held that advantage, 46%-38%.

Despite President Trump making his tough on immigration stance a key part of his presidential campaign, 50% of those surveyed feel Democrats will handle the issue better than Republicans. That number is compared to 39% of Americans, who feel Republicans are better equipped to handle immigration. In past years, Pew says that the parties were "about even" on the issue.

Voters also give Democrats sizable advantages on dealing with the environment (59%-28%), abortion and contraception (53%-33%) and health care (54%-35%.)

Americans also feel Democrats better represent their views on government spending, 48%-40%. That news comes just weeks before the federal government is set to shut down unless Congress can pass a funding bill.

Republicans do continue to have a double-digit advantage on terrorism, 48%-36%. They also have a slight lead on gun policy, 46%-41%.

Neither party is doing particularly well in the public eye; both have lost favorability points since January. Republicans dropped from 47% to 40% and Democrats went from 51% to 45%.

The survey of 1,501 U.S. adults was conducted April 5 to 11, a couple weeks after the Republicans failed to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who was one of the key players in the failed health care negotiation, is one of the biggest recipients of the public’s dissatisfaction. Just 29% of those surveyed approve of the job he’s doing. That number is lower than President Trump's approval rating, which is at 39%.

The House Freedom Caucus, a group of roughly three-dozen hardline conservatives, were critical in sinking the health care bill in March, but just one in five Americans (19%) say they’ve heard "a lot" about the group. Thirty-nine percent say they’ve heard “a little” about the caucus and 42% haven’t heard anything. 

About two-thirds of Americans (68%) see the Republican party as “mostly divided.” And despite the fallout from the failed health care bill over policy divisions within the party, that number is still better than it was in October, when 80% of voters saw the GOP as “mostly divided.”

Meanwhile, Americans view Democrats as more divided now than in October, but they believe Democrats are more united than Republicans overall. One in two voters (48%) see Democrats as “mostly divided.” In October that number was 39%. 

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