Pew Research Center: America Is More Polarized Than Ever


The Pew Research Center has conducted the largest political survey in its history and the results show that America is more politically polarized than ever.

As part of a year-long study on polarization, the Center polled more than 10,000 adults between January and March of this year. They found (somewhat unsurprisingly) that Republicans and Democrats are “further apart ideologically than at any point in recent history.”

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Here are seven key takeaways from the survey:

1. “The share of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions has doubled over the past two decades, from 10 percent to 21 percent.”

This means that there is less ideological overlap between the parties.

2. “Partisan antipathy has risen.”

Republicans with unfavorable opinions of Democrats has jumped from 17 to 43 percent, while Democrats with highly negative opinions of Republicans has more than doubled from 16 to 38 percent.

3. “’Ideological silos’ are now common on the right, and to a lesser extent, the left.”

With 63 percent of consistent conservatives and 49 percent of consistent liberals saying their close friends share their political ideologies, it looks like birds of a feather, flock together, preventing the healthy “marketplace of ideas” our friend John Stuart Mill pushed for.

4. “Differences between the right and left go beyond politics.”

Most consistent conservatives want to live in large, far a part houses, while most consistent liberals prefer smaller houses that are close to schools, stores, and restaurants.

5. “The center has gotten smaller.”

Thirty-nine percent of Americans (down from 49 percent in a 2004 survey) take a roughly equal number of liberal and conservative positions on issues like gun control, immigration reform, and health care policy.

6. “The most ideologically-oriented Americans make their voices heard through greater participation in every stage of the political process.”

The squeaky wheel gets the grease: political donation rates are about double the national average among ideologically consistent liberals (31 percent) and conservatives (26 percent).

7. “To those on the ideological right and left, compromise now means that their side gets more of what it wants.”

About 62 percent of liberals say the best deal between President Barack Obama and the GOP would be closer to what Obama wants, while 57 percent of consistent conservatives say a deal should be closer to the GOP’s terms.