The age of Trump has been hotly polarizing in a country that was already seeing its social fabric stretched thin.
A large Pew survey out this week shows just how bad it’s gotten. (Pew interviewed 6,174 Americans. For context: most good national polls only interview about 1,000 people or so.)
The survey’s biggest finding? Democrats and Republicans agree: they really don’t like Republicans and Democrats.
Since 2016, growing numbers of people in each party simply don’t like people in the other party. They increasingly see people with differing political views as closed-minded, dishonest, unintelligent and even immoral.
Among Democrats, 63% see Republicans as immoral, up from just 35% who said so in 2016. For Republicans’ part, 72% see Democrats as immoral, up from 47% seven years ago.
Majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents who lean toward either party say they do so because of the harm the other side could do to the country.
Americans are also increasingly negative in their view of the two major U.S. political parties, with 27% saying they have an unfavorable view of both political parties. Pew has been asking this question since at least 1994.
More and more, Americans also don’t want to marry or date people of another political party. One survey from 2020 found that almost 4 in 10 people in both political parties would be upset if their child married someone of the opposite political party.
(There’s even an app for conservatives now to avoid liberals in dating.)
Some 7 in 10 people say they often wish there were more political parties to choose from. Democrats are more likely to say this than Republicans, which might explain some of the more public infighting among Democrats, but the sentiment is particularly high among independents and those who are younger and less politically engaged.
While those numbers would appear to lend an opening to a down-the-middle third party, the problem with that is there is no ideological magic middle in this country.
A Pew typology found that Americans fall into about nine delineated ideological categories. But as we wrote when the study was published in 2021:
“…the three groups with the most self-identified independents ‘have very little in common politically.'”
One group, the “Ambivalent Right,” as Pew dubbed it, is conservative on economic and racial issues and want smaller government; “Stressed Sideliners” are more liberal economically but socially conservative; and those in the “Outsider Left” category are very liberal on race, immigration and climate policy.
The thing they do have in common — the three groups are the least likely to be engaged politically and the least likely to vote.