In case you thought it was just a feeling that our nation is more divided than ever before, a new Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey that involved 10,000 adults delineates the divide in very stark terms:
-- The overall share of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions has doubled over the past two decades from 10 percent to 21 percent.
-- Ninety-two percent of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94 percent of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.
-- Twenty-seven percent of Democrats in the survey see the Republican Party as a threat to the nations well-being.
-- Thirty-six percent of Republicans see the Democratic Party as a threat to the nations well-being.
The survey describes a deeply divided nation where we live, work and play with people of like ideology. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of consistent conservatives and about half (49 percent) of consistent liberals say most of their close friends share their political views. Among those with mixed ideological values, just 25 percent say the same. People on the right and left also are more likely to say it is important to them to live in a place where most people share their political views, though again, that desire is more widespread on the right (50 percent) than on the left (35 percent).
The good news is that most Americans do wallow in the divide that is mostly partisan, but this large segment of the population is largely drowned out by the louder voices of the politically active. The center is filled with people who are distant and disengaged from the political playing field.
Its easy to see where this is an accurate statement. Think back to last months primary elections. There are 5,048,825 registered voters in Georgia, but only 987,618 voted (19.56 percent). While Bibb County had a higher voter turnout than the rest of the state as a whole, that only amounted to 26.68 percent. Houston Countys turnout was a dismal 16.2 percent.
This divide has ramifications that go far beyond politics. A second report will be released in a few weeks that will explore more deeply the dynamic nature of the center of the American electorate, and the internal divides on both the left and the right.
See the survey: www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/political-polarization-in-the-american-public/