US Partisan Chasm Growing

Political polarization has surged over last 10 years, poll finds
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2012 4:18 AM CDT
The poll suggests that a lot more political gridlock looms.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

(Newser) – Politics, not race or sex or class, is the big divider in the US today, according to a Pew Research Center poll which finds the partisan gap wider than at any time in the 25 years it has been polling on the subject. In 1987, the gap between Democrats and Republicans who were asked a set of values-oriented questions was scored at 10 points—but it is 18 points today, according to the poll. Most of the increase happened over the last decade as Democrats moved left, Republicans moved right, and voters became more consistent in choosing one side over the other, researchers say.

"We've been asking the same questions in the same way for 25 years," a poll director tells CBS. "The partisan divide is now by far the largest single gap among the public, and the parties are more polarized than they ever have been in that 25-year period." The poll also found that the percentage of Americans calling themselves independent has grown, although most of those heavily favored one party. Counting independents who lean strongly one way or another, the poll found that 48% of adults polled supported the Democrats and 40% the Republicans.

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