A new study shows all the things Democrats and Republicans don't want in a neighbor

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What do you look for in a friend or a neighbor? Someone who shares the same musical taste? A love for guns and God? Someone you can argue about politics with?

A poll released on Monday by the Pew Research Center paints a picture of what character traits Americans look for in their neighbors. People were asked about fifteen kinds of traits that might affect their relationship with the person next door.


There's a lot of ways to spin the numbers, but a few things stick out. Democrats said they would find it much harder to get along with a neighbor who owns guns, for instance. Republicans would find it much harder to get along with someone who doesn't believe in God.

Views about guns and God, as President Obama notoriously alluded to back in 2008, seem to symbolize the ever growing fault lines between the worldview of rural conservatives and cosmopolitan liberals.

It's worth pointing out that in nearly every answer, a plurality of respondents said that the specific trait would probably have no effect on their relationships with prospective neighbors.


The sole exception is the question of how you would feel your hypothetical neighbor were a conservative. A full 50% of Republicans said that this would make it it easier to be a friend with that person, while 46% said it would make no difference and 3% said it would make it more difficult. (Only 37% of Democrats said it would be easier to be friends with a liberal.)

But there are some interesting biases that appear on both sides of the aisle that are worth picking at.


For instance, Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to take issue with a neighbor who likes hip-hop. They are nearly twice as likely to take issue with a gay or lesbian neighbor.

Democrats are four times as likely as Republicans to take issue with the fact that a neighbor likes country music. They also have stronger opinions than Republicans about both people who have attended college and people who haven’t.


In analyzing the survey, it's easy to start drawing conclusions. Republicans hate black people because they have an issue with people who like hip-hop! Democrats hate white America, just look at their views on country music!

Yet most people who were surveyed said that they are capable of being being unbiased to a hypothetical new neighbor, regardless of these sorts of things. In a world that feels increasingly polarized, this is a bit of good news.


Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.

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