Check out this map of America’s partisan bitterness | Thursday Morning Coffee

March 7, 2019 7:04 am

Screen capture from The Atlantic

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

If you’re a regular watcher of cable news, then you’ve no doubt heard that Americans are more divided politically than at any point in recent memory. But just how divided are they?

Well, thanks to the number-crunchers at The Atlantic, we now have a visualization of America’s partisan divide.

The bottom line:

“In general, the most politically intolerant Americans, according to the analysis, tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves. This finding aligns in some ways with previous research by the University of Pennsylvania professor Diana Mutz, who has found that white, highly educated people are relatively isolated from political diversity. They don’t routinely talk with people who disagree with them; this isolation makes it easier for them to caricature their ideological opponents. (In fact, people who went to graduate school have the least amount of political disagreement in their lives, as Mutz describes in her book Hearing the Other Side.) By contrast, many nonwhite Americans routinely encounter political disagreement. They have more diverse social networks, politically speaking, and therefore tend to have more complicated views of the other side, whatever side that may be,” The Atlantic’s Amanda RipleyRekha Tenjarla and Angela Y. He wrote.

The data behind The Atlantic’s heat map comes from the folks at the polling firm PredictWise, which asked 2,000 respondents a series of questions about their political beliefs and their perceptions of the Big Two political parties.

We’re republishing the full list below because, well, not only is it fascinating, it’s also like a verbal representation of every horrible Thanksgiving politics argument you’ve ever had:

  1. How would you react if a member of your immediate family married a Democrat?
  2. How would you react if a member of your immediate family married a Republican?
  3. How well does the term ‘Patriotic’ describe Democrats?
  4. How well does the term ‘Selfish’ describe Democrats?
  5. How well does the term ‘Willing to compromise’ describe Democrats?
  6. How well does the term ‘Compassionate’ describe Democrats?
  7. How well does the term ‘Patriotic’ describe Republicans?
  8. How well does the term ‘Selfish’ describe Republicans?
  9. How well does the term ‘Willing to compromise’ describe Republicans?
  10. How well does the term ‘Compassionate’ describe Republicans?
  11. How do you feel about the Republican Party today?
  12. How do you feel about the Democratic Party today?
  13. How do you feel about Democratic voters today?
  14. How do you feel about Republican voters today?

Here’s all you need to know about what the number-crunchers found:

“In general, Republicans seem to dislike Democrats more than Democrats dislike Republicans, PredictWise found. We don’t know why this is, but this is not the only study to have detected an imbalance. For example, in a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, half of consistently conservative respondents said it was important for them to live in a place where most people share their political views—compared with just 35 percent of consistent liberals,” The Atlantic reported. “But a more recent survey, conducted in December by The Atlantic and the Public Religion Research Institute, found that Democrats were the ones showing more ill will—with 45 percent saying they’d be unhappy if their child married a Republican (versus 35 percent of Republicans saying they’d be unhappy if their child married a Democrat). So it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on, but what’s clear is that both sides are becoming more hostile toward one another.”

Now take a look at these partisan breakdowns.

First up, the Democrats:

Democrats seem to be less judgmental of Republicans in some parts of the country than in others. Overall, there is an intriguing imbalance in the data: Democrats seem to have more tolerance for Republicans than Republicans have for Democrats, at least according to this analysis,” The Atlantic reports.

Now let’s take a look at the Republicans:

“Republicans’ attitudes toward Democrats vary from place to place. In some places, Republicans seem to be more tolerant of Democrats, despite their differences, according to the model,” The Atlantic reports.

Taking a look at Pennsylvania, some interesting conclusions emerged.

For instance, heavily Republican Cumberland County scored in the 57th percentile on the PredictWise partisanship scale. That means 43 out of every 100 counties are “more prejudiced against the political other,” putting it in the middle end of the partisanship scale.

Majority Democrat Philadelphia, meanwhile, scored in the 95th percentile, meaning that five out of every 100 counties “are more prejudiced against the political other,” putting it at the top end of the partisanship scale.

Now the final punchline:

“The irony is that Americans remain in agreement on many actual issues. Eight out of 10 Americans think that political correctness is a problem; the same number say that hate speech is a concern too. Most Americans are worried about the federal budget deficit, believe abortion should be legal in some or all cases, and want stricter gun regulation,” The Atlantic reported. “Nevertheless, we are more and more convinced that the other side poses a threat to the country. Our stereotypes have outpaced reality, as stereotypes tend to do.” 

Plus la change, eh?

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And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.