Saturday, January 29, 2022
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Is America Hopelessly Polarized, or Just Allergic to Politics?

This is higher than the percentage of people who reported that America is divided over issues of race and ethnicity (83 percent) or religion (77 percent). Like other recent polls and surveys, ours asked people whether they would be happy or unhappy if they had a child who married someone from the opposing party, Republican or Democratic. True polarization is when you dislike the other party and really like your own party. While this number grew to 25 percent among people who have strong connections to their party, it shrank to 10 percent of weak partisans. Weak partisans aren’t happy with an in-law from the opposing party discussing politics, but many are just as unhappy with an in-law from their own party who insists on political conversation. Other studies suggest, much like ours, that somewhere between 15 percent and 20 percent of Americans are truly polarized. In the 2018 American Family Survey, for example, only 21 percent of participants reported that it was important for a married couple to be of the same party. Looking beyond marriage, a survey conducted by The New York Times found that only 16 percent of people placed their political party membership among the top three terms they used to describe themselves. If the polarized are who comes to mind when Americans imagine a partisan, it is no wonder these Americans aren’t excited about that new in-law who supports the other party. These people may get the most attention, but they are also outnumbered by the majority who just want to discuss other things than politics.