Cultural Issues, Biden and Trump Voters and the 2024 Election

Immigration, gender identity, racial diversity and views of a changing society

(All photos via Getty Images)

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand voters’ political values related to cultural issues in the context of the 2024 election. For this analysis, we surveyed 8,709 adults, including 7,166 registered voters, from April 8 to 14, 2024. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology

Here are the questions used for the report and its methodology

The 2024 presidential campaign is taking place amid intense debates over such topics as immigration, growing racial and ethnic diversity in the United States, the changing American family, crime and reproductive issues.

Chart shows Wide differences between Biden and Trump supporters on key cultural issues in the presidential campaign

These topics sometimes are grouped together as “culture war” or “woke” issues.

On most – but not all – of these topics, voters who support President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have starkly different opinions. Yet in many cases, Biden and Trump supporters are themselves sharply divided.

Across more than 30 measures, some of the widest differences are on issues that have divided Americans for decades: the role of guns in society, as well as race and the legacy of slavery.

Yet, Biden and Trump supporters also have very different opinions across many other topics likely to be focal points in the campaign: gender identity and sexual orientation, crime and policing, reproductive issues, the influence of religion on society and the changes that have transformed life in the U.S. in recent decades.

A new survey by Pew Research Center of 8,709 adults – including 7,166 registered voters – conducted April 8-14, 2024, examines the political values of the Biden and Trump coalitions that underlie policy attitudes in many of these areas.

Jump to read about Biden and Trump supporters’ views on: Race and racial diversity | Immigration and language | American history | Gender and family | Gender identity and sexual orientation | Religion | Crime and policing | Guns

Among the major findings:

Enduring divisions on race and the legacy of slavery. Just 27% of registered voters who support Trump say the legacy of slavery affects the position of Black people in America today a great deal or fair amount; 73% say it has little or no impact.

Opinions among Biden supporters are nearly the opposite: 79% say slavery’s legacy still affects the position of Black people, while 20% say it has not too much or no effect.

Wide gaps on gender identity and same-sex marriage. While Americans have complex opinions on gender identity and transgender rights, a growing share of voters (65%) say that whether a person is a man or woman is determined by the sex they were assigned at birth. About a third (34%) say someone can be a man or woman, even if that differs from their sex at birth.

  • Nearly all Trump supporters (90%) say gender is determined by sex at birth. By contrast, Biden supporters are more divided. About six-in-ten (59%) say gender can be different from sex at birth; 39% say gender is determined by sex at birth.
  • Nearly a decade after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Biden and Trump supporters have starkly different views of the impact of that historic ruling. Biden supporters are about five times as likely (57%) as Trump supporters (11%) to say legalization of same-sex marriage is good for society.
Chart shows Sharp divide between Biden and Trump supporters over the need to deport undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Most Trump voters now favor a “national effort to deport” all those in the U.S. illegally. Opposition to allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally if they meet certain requirements has risen in recent years, driven largely by Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters.

  • Nearly two-thirds of Trump backers (63%) support a national effort to deport all those in the country illegally, compared with just 11% of Biden supporters.
Chart shows How Biden and Trump supporters view legal abortion, access to contraception

Divided views of the criminal justice system. A majority of voters (61%) say the criminal justice system is generally “not tough enough on criminals.” Just 13% say the system is too tough, while 25% say it treats criminals about right.

  • Trump supporters (81%) are about twice as likely as Biden supporters (40%) to say the criminal justice system is not tough enough on criminals.
  • Yet, there are much narrower differences in several priorities for the police and law enforcement: Overwhelming majorities of Biden and Trump supporters say it is extremely or very important for police and law enforcement to keep communities safe and to treat people of all racial and ethnic groups equally.

The changing American family. The structure of American family is very different than it was 40 or 50 years ago. Biden and Trump supporters view these changes very differently:   

  • Roughly three times as many Trump supporters as Biden supporters say society is better if people prioritize marriage and family (59% vs. 19%).
  • And Trump supporters are far more likely to take a negative view of the nation’s falling birth rate: 47% say people having fewer children is a bad thing, compared with 23% of Biden supporters.

Divisions on abortion, more agreement on availability of contraceptives. Since the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed a right to abortion, support for legal abortion has ticked up in both parties.

  • Today, 88% of Biden supporters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases; 38% of Trump supporters say the same.

By contrast, voters – including large majorities of both candidates’ supporters – overwhelmingly say the wide availability of birth control pills, condoms and other forms of contraception is good for society.

Broad support among voters for discussing America’s historical successes – and its flaws. The survey finds that while Biden and Trump supporters have profoundly different attitudes on many cultural issues, they mostly support the discussion of America’s historical successes, as well as its flaws.

  • Nearly identical shares of Biden (74%) and Trump supporters (71%) say it is extremely or very important to have public discussions about the country’s historical successes and strengths.
  • 78% of Biden supporters and 60% of Trump supporters say it is at least very important to have public discussions about the country’s failures and flaws.
Chart shows Most Biden and Trump supporters express positive views of more people openly discussing mental health

Voters are very positive about more open discussions of mental health. More than eight-in-ten voters (87%) say that more people openly discussing mental health and well-being is good for society. This includes large majorities of both Biden (94% good thing) and Trump supporters (79%).

Related: Who do Americans feel comfortable talking to about their mental health?

There is broad skepticism about the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) in daily life. More than half of voters (55%) say this is bad for society, while 21% see this as a good thing (24% say it is neither good nor bad). There are only modest differences in these views between Trump supporters (59% say this is bad for society) and Biden supporters (51%).

Related: Growing public concern about the role of artificial intelligence in everyday life

Voters’ comfort level with some common – and less common – experiences

To some extent, voters’ political values are reflected in whether or not they’re comfortable with fairly common experiences.

Chart shows Voters’ comfort level with some common experiences, including prayer and pronouns

A large share of voters (80%), including sizable majorities of Biden and Trump supporters, say they are comfortable with someone they don’t know saying they will keep them in their prayers.

Most women in opposite-sex marriages continue to take their husbands’ last names when they marry. Still, three-quarters of voters say they are comfortable with women not taking their husbands names.

Trump supporters are less comfortable than Biden supporters with women not taking their husbands’ last names. And among men who support the former president, 44% are uncomfortable with this practice, compared with 29% of women who support Trump.

There is a wider gap between Biden and Trump voters in comfort with people speaking a language other than English in public places in their communities. More than eight-in-ten Biden supporters (83%) are comfortable hearing languages other than English, compared with a narrow majority of Trump supporters (54%).

And, reflecting the wide divide between the two sides in opinions on transgender issues, just 20% of Trump supporters say they are comfortable with someone using “they/them” instead of “he” or “she” to describe themselves. More than three times as many Biden supporters (66%) – including 79% of Biden supporters under age 50 – say they are comfortable with the use of these gender-neutral pronouns.

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