Twenty-seven percent of Democrats and 36 percent of Republicans see the other party as a threat to the nation’s well-being. Consistent
liberals and consistent conservatives, those who hold nearly uniform liberal or conservative beliefs, are even more alarmed: 50 percent of consistent
liberals and 66 percent of consistent conservatives see the other party as a threat to the nation.
The animosity is so deep that many would be unhappy if a close relative married someone of a different political persuasion: 23 percent of consistent
liberals would be unhappy if an immediate family member married a conservative, and 30 percent of consistent conservatives would be unhappy if a close
relative married a Democrat.
This is actually a really interesting study done by everybody's favorite, Pew Research (cough, cough--sarcasm) as the article comes with an
interactive graph plotting out political ideologies over a period of 20 years. Before I actually post the image from 2014, several years ago, while
taking Political Science, the subject of political ideology came up and the professor stated that it was one of those things that typically falls
under a bell curve pattern where the bulk of the population is hovering right around the middle of the graph and should look like this:
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Using the interactive to go back to 1994, this is what political ideologies looked like and you can kind of see that lumpy bell curve within the
diagram. It's pretty "normal" statistically speaking where you have the bulk of the population hovering at the center and not a whole lot of the
population on the extreme ends of the graph. In fact, that is what defines polarization as it's being used in this article. Polarization, basically
defined, is an accumulation towards the extremes.
And this is today.
A severely polarized, non-normal American society where that normalized bell curve looks like it's been stomped on severely. Instead of hovering
around the middle, the American public is sharply divided and accumulating towards the extreme ends of political ideology. I'd say that we don't have
to look any further to find evidence of this than these very boards. Just about every political conversation is filled with attacks against not only
the other political party but any of those whom the author of the post deems to be of the opposite political belief. It's not just here on ATS. You
can see these kind of "conversations" just about anywhere on the net and they are frequently pretty rabid. That's polarization.
So, if we, as a population, tend to fall along that normal bell curve, then what the hell happened? Back in my poli sci class days, I had to do a
research paper on the subject of media bias in the press. A lot of the papers that I read covered the expected--questioning whether it existed and
discussing the effects when it did. A few of the papers, however, discussed the effects of media in terms of polarization. They predicted that, as
things were going, that society within the US was going to grow increasingly polarized due to the changes within the media--not just the press but the
internet, itself. Here's a number of articles on the subject of media and polarization of American politics:
New Media and the Polarization of American Political Discourse
--Discusses political bias of multiple popular news related websites.
Red Media, Blue Media: Evidence of Ideological Selectivity in
--Again, discusses polarization of news reporting, including television with a focus on user selectivity in order to avoid dissonance
by reading stories that are harmful to their ideological perceptions.
Media and Political Polarization
--Discusses persuasion, selective exposure
and argues against the concept of polarization within American society and claims that polarization, if it exists, exists in political activists and
What do you think? Are we really becoming polarized and accumulating towards more extreme views or is this just "news junkies"? One interesting
thing to note is that, typically while doing a public opinion poll, the number of respondents required tend to be a little over 1000 respondents.
This survey by Pew was different--way different.
The study is not the first to suggest that American politics are sorting along ideological lines. But it is based on a survey of 10,000
Americans, roughly 10 times the size of the average political poll. Respondents were asked novel questions about lifestyle, not just policy
edit on 16/6/14 by WhiteAlice because: there we go, done tweaking.