Voters' social identities influence party identification, says pollster

Pollster Rob Griffin said in an interview that aired Tuesday on "What America's Thinking" that voters' social identities are now defining what party they identify with -- and more strongly impacting their feelings about the identification of others. 

"I think it is the case that Trump has probably accelerated some of these trends about people feeling more negative about the other party, but it also predates him," Griffin, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, told Hill.TV's Joe Concha on Monday. 

"You go back to the 1950s. People being religious didn't predict whether they were Democratic or Republican all that much," he continued. 

"Today it does, and it's because we used to have these overlapping identities. 'Sure I'm a Democrat, you're a Republican, but we both go to church,'" he said. 

"It's now the case that all of these identities are starting to sort of converge away from one another. That what defines us socially, what defines us as people starts to define the party that we go into," he said. 

Research shows that Republicans and Democrats differ greatly on a variety of social issues, including religion. 

A Pew Research Center survey released in May found that the majority of white Democrats tend to be less religious than Republicans. 

Griffin was reacting to a new Axios/Survey Monkey poll that found that 61 percent of Democrats see Republicans as "racist," "bigoted," and "sexist," while 54 percent of Democrats said they thought Republicans were "ignorant" and "spiteful."

— Julia Manchester