7 Troubling Stats That Show the Threat of American Partisanship
Each decade, PewResearch conducts a poll of American adults to measure the political contentiousness in the country. As anyone who pays attention to current events can tell you, it’s no surprise that the most recent results show that the American public is more partisan than it has been in decades. Here are seven of the most worrisome statistics the survey turned up:
1. 4 Times as Many People Are Firmly Republican or Democrat As They Were 20 Years Ago
Though people have always identified as Republican and Democrat, just two decades ago, you’d be hard-pressed to find many people whose views put them squarely in either camp. In 1994, just 5% of liberals agreed with their party all across the board, but that number is up to 23% today. That same year, 6% of Republicans held uniformly conservative positions, but 20% of today’s Republicans adhere to almost every one of the party’s stance. Are the parties getting better at reflecting their bases’ opinions? Perhaps… or more likely people are having their own opinions influenced by their party’s stances.
2. 36% of Republicans view Democrats as “a threat to the nation’s well-being.”
That sharp political divide that politicians and conservative media have worked so hard to promote? It’s working! A growing number of Americans don’t just chalk up differing political views as a difference in opinions – they look at them as destructive to the country.
3. 27% of Democrats view Republicans the same way.
The animosity is strong in both directions, actually. With more than a quarter of Democrats considering Republicans “a threat to the nation’s well-being,” too, the contentiousness definitely bleeds both ways, making reasonable reconciliation and attempts to find common ground less likely.
4. The Majorities of Both Conservatives and Liberals Want Their Parties to Hold Out for More
That game the political parties play where they stonewall each other’s legislation in the hopes of getting something out of it… it turns out their base supporters are in favor of that approach. 62% of liberals and 57% of conservatives think that “compromise” is not a good idea unless it results in the opposing party getting the shorter end of the stick. That doesn’t exactly sound like compromise to us – no wonder it rarely happens.
5. More Than Half of Partisan Voters Hang Out Exclusively with Like-Minded Friends
If you’ve been hoping that social circles might help to broaden Americans’ horizons, don’t hold your breath. 63% of conservatives and 49% of liberals say that almost all of their friends share their political perspectives. This radical segregation in party identification only serves to put walls between Democrats and Republicans. It’s time for a mixer!
6. 39% of Americans Have Views That Don’t Fit Into One Category – But They Disengage
Despite the rapid shift to one side of the aisle or the other, nearly four in ten Americans still genuinely have views that are too diverse to categorize them as either Democrat or Republican. However, these mixed or moderate voters don’t have as much influence as their affiliated peers because they turn out to vote at significantly lower rates.
7. Only 8% of Independents Contribute to Political Candidates
Independents seem kind of over the political process altogether. Without many middle-of-the-road candidates who stand a chance of winning elections, they don’t contribute financially to campaigns. Even though the easing of campaign finance regulations makes money more essential to winning elections than ever, independents are keeping their money out of politicians’ hands and, in turn, disengaging more than in previous decades.