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Trump’s era has been heavily polarized in a country that was already seeing its social fabric stretch.
A major Pew survey released this week shows just how bad things have gotten. (Pew polled 6,174 Americans. For context: most good national polls only poll about 1,000 people.)
The biggest discovery of the survey? Democrats and Republicans agree: they really don’t like Republicans and Democrats.
Since 2016, an increasing number of people in each party simply don’t like people from the other party. They increasingly see people with different political views as closed-minded, dishonest, unintelligent and even immoral.
Among Democrats, 63% view Republicans as immoral, down from just 35% who said so in 2016. Among Republicans, 72% view Democrats as immoral, down from 47% seven years ago.
The majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents who lean towards one party or the other say they do so because of the harm the other side could do to the country.
Americans also have an increasingly negative view of both major US political parties, with 27% saying they have an unfavorable view of both political parties. Pew has been asking this question since at least 1994.
Increasingly, Americans also don’t want to marry or date people from another political party. A 2020 survey found that almost 4 in 10 people in both political parties would be upset if their child married someone from the opposite political party.
(There’s even an app for conservatives now to avoid liberals in dating.)
About 7 in 10 people say they often wish they had more political parties to choose from. Democrats are more likely to say this than Republicans, which could explain some of the more public infighting among Democrats, but sentiment is particularly high among independents and those who are younger and less politically engaged.
Although these numbers seem to provide an opening for a middle third, the problem with this is that there is no magic ideological milieu in this country.
A Pew typology found that Americans belong to about nine demarcated ideological categories. But as we wrote when publishing the study in 2021:
“…the three groups with the most self-identified independents ‘have very little in common politically.’”
One group, the “ambivalent right,” as Pew has dubbed it, is conservative on economic and racial issues and wants a smaller government; Stressed Sideliners are more economically liberal but socially conservative; and those in the “Outsider Left” category are very liberal on race, immigration and climate policy.
The thing they have in common – all three groups are the least likely to engage politically and the least likely to vote.