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.


Jim Ven
Jim Ven4 months ago

thanks for the article.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H.2 years ago

I am not surprised by the findings. I have seen it first hand in friends and family!

Regus S.
Regus Slantei2 years ago

-- cont. --

Why don't you actually read the friggin' articles that you are so fond of referencing in your posts? Same for the climate-change articles you seem so fond of mis-quoting and mis-characterizing. What an obedient little lemming, doing the unquestioned bidding of the mothership.


Regus S.
Regus Slantei2 years ago

Dan B. -- Just as with your opinions on climate change, you've made stupid statements here and then you spend multiple posts denying that you made them by trying to ascribe YOUR nonsense to others.

YOU said that profits would be cut into, not me.

It turns out that even "simple economics" has YOU confused, at least when you try to conflate it with frantically contrived arguments meant to malign someone just because he happens to support Obama.

I agree, the article you referenced shows Steyer lobbying against Keystone, but NOT for the reasons you contrived. He merely says what is already well-known: "Keystone oil will travel through America not to America", and it is therefore bad for our economy and local communities in the long run, even after factoring in the boom-and-bust, local, short-term increases in jobs associated with the construction of the pipeline. His arguments are as true for the oil his company now transports as it is for the Keystone oil, and so it can be readily argued that his comments are as much lobbying against his own long-term oil-business interests as they are against Keystone. More to the point: he does NOT advocate that his existing infrastructure transport the Keystone oil; he advocates for not transporting that oil through America AT ALL.

Why don't you actually read the friggin' articles that you are so fond of referencing in your posts? Same for the climate-change articles you seem so fond of mis-quoting and mis-characterizing. Wha

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm2 years ago

OH I agree Brian. Canda took the course of least resistance.. tey are hoping out greed will overcome the reistance. if it doesnt they will find another way is all. You are right

Brian Foster
Brian F.2 years ago

Robert H Actually, Canada has approved the Northern Gateway pipeline. Amid fierce opposition, the Canadian government conditionally approved a controversial pipeline to transport crude oil from Alberta. Not Keystone — the other pipeline: a 731-mile-long system that will connect Alberta’s tar sands to the Pacific Coast, where it would be shipped onward to Asia.

The bottom line is Canada's Harper government, is sitting on ten trillion dollars worth of dirty tar sands oil. If Obama rejects it, which I hope he will, Canada will do anything to sell this dirty oil overseas, and make trillions of dollars.

This dirty oil needs to stay in the ground, and no pipelines need to be built. We also need to block all rail shipments. Our environment is too important to jeopardize it, so TransCanada, Enbridge, and the greedy conservative liar Harper in Canada, can profit, and become rich.

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm2 years ago

They are building the pipeline because their own country wont let them build one up there.

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 years ago

Robert h.,
I was replying to Cletus, who seemed to think that thr oil companies were not building the Keystone pipeline in order to increase profits. Of course the oil companies control the market. Still, the small price reduction will generate greater profits due to higher volume.

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm2 years ago

Dan, we are the number 2 producer of oil in the world. Our oil companies are making a fortune no matter WHO is number one. There is NO Incentive for the oil companies to sell the product for less profit here if they can make more on the world market. The Oil Market is RIGGED…..pardon the pun. Our Oil companies are HEAVILY invested in the Middle East. People still like to pretened there is a free market. The free market died long ago.

Donna F.
Donna F.2 years ago

noted. ty