According to Alan Murray, Pew Research president, “growing minorities have taken clear sides in the political battle, see high stakes in the outcome and are filled with passionate intensity.”
The Pew survey found:
- the percentage of American voters who adhere consistently to liberal or conservative views has doubled since 1994, from 10% to 21%. More than twice as many Republicans and Democrats express a “very unfavorable” opinion of the other party as did so two decades ago. Further, a majority of these “strong partisans” believe the other side poses a “threat to the nation’s well being.”
- liberal thinking has coalesced at least as much as conservative thinking. Democrats holding consistently liberal views have more than quadrupled in twenty years, from 5% to 23%. Republicans with similarly consistent conservative views have fluctuated [from] 13% in 1994, [down to] 6% in 2004, and [up to] 20% this year.
- “the ideological. . . are driving American politics,” [Pew’s Murray added,] noting they are more likely to vote, make campaign contributions, contact members of Congress or work in campaigns. And 38% of politically engaged Democrats now hold consistently liberal views, up from just 8% in 1994, while 33% of politically engaged Republicans are consistent conservatives, up from 23% in 1994 and just 10% in 2004.
So, two troublesome truths, recently re-learned:
1. America’s divided because its people are divided.
2. America abroad faces problems beyond our control.