Political Polarization in the American Public


How Increasing Ideological Uniformity and Partisan Antipathy Affect Politics, Compromise and Everyday Life

Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines – and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive – than at any point in the last two decades. These trends manifest themselves in myriad ways, both in politics and in everyday life. And a new survey of 10,000 adults nationwide finds that these divisions are greatest among those who are the most engaged and active in the political process.



Watch the death of the ideological middle, in 15 seconds

The ideological middle – both in Congress and in the country at large – is either dead or dying. This is not a new revelation.

But, rarely has the rising polarization in the country been explored as deeply as in new Pew Research Center data that seeks to explain not just the how but the why of our increasingly divided country. The entire report is very worth reading. One image from it, though, which documents where the average Democrat and average Republican have fallen on the ideological spectrum over the past two decades, really captures how much things have changed in recent years.

Here it is. (Just click the “animate data from 1994-2014” button.)

There are a few remarkable things in that animation. The first is how the “median Republican” moved to the ideological left from 1994-2004. The second is how in 2004, that movement stopped and immediately began to reverse itself. The third is how the median Democrat and Republican move rapidly toward their ideological poles starting in 2011.


In the past when you saw something like this happening, great political changes happened in the country.


Ultimately the extremists to the right and to the left end up resembling each other. Maybe, not in ideas, but certainly in tactics and attitudes. I remember when people could disagree, but still respect that each other; that is slowly being lost. Yelling has replaced dialogue, compromise is seen as weakness. The problem in the US is that the left and right seem to be evenly split; with fewer people in the centre, this leads to political gridlock. Maybe, the US needs a third, centrist party? Probably will never happen as the republicans and democrats seem to like the two party system.:shrug:


I wonder how the growing segment of young libertarians and others that are not necessarily moderate, but have views that don’t fit well on the traditional left-right spectrum, would factor in to such polarization.


Interesting. Is it just me, or does the democrat median consistently only get more extreme while the republicans fluctuate?


The big problem that gets in the way of viable this parties is that many, I’d not most of us are not voting for someone but rather ate coring against the guy who scares us. You probably don’t like the guy you vote for but he is viable whole your preferred guy isn’t.


That has been the way it always worked in this country. That and you vote for the evil you know rather than the evil you don’t know.


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