Last week we examined two alternative understandings of polarization. One emphasizes deep divisions and extreme opinions, while the other focuses on even divisions. Though the latter stretches the concept almost beyond recognition, it’s the more common usage by the commentariat. In both cases, the evidence for polarization is mixed. On some issues we are deeply divided, on others not. And on some matters the country divides evenly, while on others divisions are far from even.
At least three other conceptions of polarization appear frequently in public discussion — one focusing on coherence, another on partisanship and a third on animosity. [cont.]