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The Great Debate: Democrats vs. Republicans

Move over Paul Ryan and Barney Franks; here come the blue and red family trees. If you are a fan of cable news, you know the differences between Democrats and Republicans. Just flip between MSNBC and FoxNews and you'll think you're on two different planets. Well, guess what…what happens today was happening way back in the 1790s. It's really interesting: party names changed through time, but beliefs held have remained pretty consistent through the years. Looking at the Presidents on the timeline is like a flashback through history.

Democrats vs Republicans

Not So Different than Today

Old-time Dems were called Anti-Federalists and were headed up by Alexander Hamilton. They believed in a strong centralized government. The Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, believed in modest government control and strong farmer rights (like the private sector today).

In 1828, the Democratic-Republican Party was formed and led by Andrew Jackson. More political changes occurred in 1830, when the National Republican Party was formed by those old ex-Feds. Today's politics have nothing on the 1800s. Take a look at the outside borders in red and see just how many changes and party leaders morphed through the years.

During the 1860s, the big debate of the day was slavery and the nation was divided (and you know what came next). Check out the infographic for a brush up on the President who abolished slavery.

Sound Familiar?

Check this out: Back in 1865, the Republican Party split into three factions: The Conservatives, the Radicals, and the Moderates. Now, flash forward to the 1890s and you’ll notice how politics back then mirror today's politics. The Democratic Party was made up mostly of poor Catholic immigrant workers. The Republican Party was made up of Northern Protestants who wanted to restrict immigration and supported the temperance movement. Does that sound like today's news?Look at the middle column and see for yourself!

Blue vs. Red Beliefs

Dems and Republicans hold a different view on some (but not all) social issues. The death penalty is supported by 82% of Republicans and 63% of Democrats, both parties share similar viewpoints about the cloning of animals (28% and 31%), and both parties widely oppose polygamy, cloning humans, or married people having affairs. Both parties show similar support for gambling, but huge differences of opinions come into play with gay marriage. Click on the middle column and scroll down to read all the fascinating stats.

More Poll Differences (No Surprise!)

Okay, these won't come as a surprise, but it's fun-fact stuff. Test your knowledge of blue vs. red beliefs on these questions: When polled if we've gone too far in pushing equal rights, which party showed that 55% of their supporters said yes? Try this one: When asked, "is the best way to ensure peace through military support?", what did each say? You got it; the Republicans agreed at 69% while Democrats came in at 44%. No wonder Congress argues over defense spending!

Debt by President

We get conflicting reports on these topics depending on the cable news we watch, but truth is the president that had the biggest financial mess was during World War II. Take a look at the middle column down towards the bottom, and you'll see all the stats on what the state of debt was when each president took office and what it was when they left office. Dwight Eisenhower did a pretty good job and so did Kennedy and Johnson. Both Regan and Bush had more ending debt than they started office with. Check out the infographic and see how unemployment stats stack up with each president; it's interesting.

So Who Had Highest Approval Ratings?

In the history of presidents, which President of the United States had the highest approval ratings? Drum roll please…John Kennedy at 70.1%, followed by Dwight Eisenhower at 65%. Of the Bush presidents, which one held higher approval ratings? Yep, Dad Bush ranked higher at 60.9% versus 49.4%. Click on the middle section and check out where Ronald Regan was rated. Have some fun with it!

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