More (on) Polarization

… Many studies have documented the widening gap between partisans of the two parties. The blatant contempt that Republicans and Democrats express towards each other in surveys has escalated in the last 20 years. … A 2015 study found that party prejudice is stronger than racial prejudice. Republican and Democratic partisans have become increasingly different in their positions on issues, on moral concerns, and even in styes of life which seemingly having nothing to do with politics. … In their paper titled “Why do Liberals Drink Lattes?,” Daniel DellaPosta, Yongren Shi, and Michael Macy document the ways in which liberals and conservatives differ culturally (although they actually have no data about coffee). That one side likes to bird-watch in Patagonia jackets and other to bird-hunt in camo has no logical connection to positions on, say, the estate tax or who should be president, only but crucially a psychological connection. …

Speaking of issues, a pair of studies in the Quarterly Journal of Political Science … make the case that seeming conflicts between Democratic and Republican survey respondents on facts–say, on the unemployment rate, or on crime trends–are best understood not as expressions of different realities, but rather as expressions of identities. Many partisans take factual questions posed by pollsters as opportunities to declare who they are and whose side they are on. CONT.

Claude Fischer