POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

The Democratic Party

The Democratic Party in the US is one of the two major political parties in the country today, alongside the Republican Party. The party's symbol is a donkey and its color is blue.

Early history

The party’s roots go all the way back to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1828, Andrew Jackson established the Democratic Party after a split in the Democratic-Republican Party and went on to become the first Democratic Party President of the US in 1829. 

20th century and beyond

In contrast to the contemporary Democratic Party, during the 19th century the party’s leading ideology was conservatism. Since the 1930s “New Dealers”, however, the party has generally been guided by more progressive and liberal ideas, with conservative Democrats making up only a small proportion of the party today.

2016 election race

Hillary Clinton won the primary race to become the party’s presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, falling short of eventual winner Donald Trump despite receiving a greater number of votes nation-wide. During the primaries, however, Clinton, representing the more centrist segment of the party, saw off an unexpected challenge by left-wing candidate Bernie Sanders.

The most recent Democratic Party president was Barack Obama (2009 - 2017). Other notable presidents from the party include:

  • Bill Clinton (1993 - 2001)
  • Lyndon Johson (1963 - 1969)
  • John F. Kennedy (1961 - 1963)
  • Harry Truman (1945 - 1953)
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933 - 1945)
  • Woodrow Wilson (1913 - 1921)
See also: Presidential Election, The Republican Party

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