Pew has released a gigantic survey report on political polarization in America, and everyone will find fascinating nuggets throughout. The most consistent takeaways are these:
- Polarization has increased considerably over the past few decades.
- Both sides have moved away from the center, but conservatives have moved further.
- Both sides tend to be more cocooned than in the past, but more conservatives live in a bubble than liberals.
- Conservatives vote a helluva lot more than liberals. But you already knew that.
Here are three of my favorite charts from the report, picked semi-randomly. First up is one that I choose to interpret as supporting my view of Fox News as the primary source of the most toxic Gingrichian tendencies in the Republican Party. Take a look at the right side of this chart. Among consistent liberals, their dislike of the Republican Party goes down in the late 90s, then up in the aughts, then down again after 2010. This seems reasonably explainable by a growing antipathy whenever a Republican is president.
Now look at the left side. There's no such trend. Among consistent conservatives, dislike of the Democratic Party just goes up and up and up. These are the most rabid Fox watchers, and I'd submit that this is the most likely explanation for their skyrocketing hatred of Democrats.
Second, here's what people do and don't like. As every liberal has insisted forever, and as every conservative has vociferously denied just as long, conservatives are much more likely to be open racists. The more conservative you are, the more likely you are to be unhappy if a family member marries someone of another race. This is in the year 2014.
In the spirit of equal time, you see exactly the same dismay among liberals at the prospect of a family member marrying a gun owner. In fairness, however, gun ownership is an active personal choice that informs a person's character, so this is more defensible.
Third, here's yet more confirmation that atheists are still the most distrusted people in the country. An astounding 73 percent of consistent conservatives would be unhappy if a family member married an atheist. Hell, even 24 percent of consistent liberals would be unhappy at the prospect. Jeebus.