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Polarized Politics in US Fueled by Negative Views of Opposition

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A Pew Research Center report published Oct. 10 offers insight into attitudes and perspectives fueling the divide within U.S. politics.

When asked to describe the morality of politicians based on party affiliation, 55% of Republicans say Democrats are more immoral, 64% that they are more close-minded, and 63% that they are less patriotic than other U.S. citizens.

Democrats’ views of Republicans were no more charitable, with 47% saying Republicans are more immoral, 75% that they are more close-minded, and 38% that they are less intelligent than other Americans.

When asked about the two major political parties’ views on various issues, 63% of respondents said “too extreme in its positions” describes Republicans very or somewhat well, and 61% said it describes Democrats very or somewhat well.

Respondents revealed that the polarization runs deeper than policy positions, with 73% affirming that U.S. voters “not only disagree over plans and policies, but also cannot agree on the basic facts.”

Similarly, 56% of Republicans said that Democrats “feel differently than I do about politics, and they probably don’t share many of my other values and goals, either,” while 50% of Democrats expressed this sentiment about Republicans.

While a strong majority of respondents (78%) believe such divides are increasing, a majority of respondents from both parties also expressed a desire for politicians to find common ground.

Democrats were more likely to affirm this desire, with 60% saying they want a Democratic president committed to “finding common ground with Republicans on policies, even if it means giving up some things Democrats want.”

By comparison, 51% of Republican respondents said they want a Republican president who would work on “finding common ground with Democrats on policies, even if it means giving up some things Republicans want.”

The margin of error is plus or minus 1.5%.

The full report is available here. The topline results are available here.