Congress can’t seem to get anything done these days, and a growing number of hardcore partisan voters could be to blame.
A new study from the Pew Research Center shows that the American public is more divided along ideological lines than ever.
The chart below shows how the portion of Americans who have “consistently conservative” or “consistently liberal” views has doubled over the past two decades.
More than any other time in recent history, members of both parties seem to flat out dislike the other side. The share of Republicans who have very unfavorable views of the Democratic Party has risen from 17 percent in 1994 to 43 percent today, with 36 percent viewing the Democrats as a “threat to the nation’s well being.” Meanwhile, 38 percent of Democrats hold a very unfavorable view toward the Republican Party, up 22 percentage points over the past 20 years. Just over a quarter of Democrats see the GOP as a threat.
On almost every issue — government regulations, public assistance, immigration reform, corporate profits, military intervention, and gay rights — people in each party are as divided as ever.
And on the question of compromise, an increasing number of people on the left and right side of the political spectrum don’t want Democrats and Republicans to meet halfway to get things done.
Overall, just under half of Americans (49 percent) want both parties to split their demands 50/50, with similar percentages of all Democrats and Republicans holding the same view. But that view changes when you look at people who are more ideologically motivated.
Sixty-two percent of so-called “consistent liberals” say any deal should be closer to President Obama’s position to the GOP’s. And 57 percent of “consistent conservatives” say that a deal should be tilted toward the Republican Party’s terms.
Congress’ inability to agree on anything largely matches the attitudes of the most polarized Americans. A contributing factor to that could be that people on opposite sides of the spectrum are more likely to participate in politics — through voting, volunteering, and donations — than people in the middle, according to the survey.
So if you’re someone who is tired of the way Congress is doing business and wants members who are more willing to find common ground, the answer is simple: go out and vote.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.