Americans more politically divided than ever

LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s one of the biggest complaints among voters: lawmakers’ refusal to compromise for the sake of making progress. But the way you vote could be contributing to the problem.

In a country built on the fundamental rights to speak and think freely, Americans are clinging to their personal beliefs more now than they have in two decades. The new Pew Research study  reveals 1 in 5 Americans are passionately conservative or liberal, up from 1 in 10 people ten years ago.

And it doesn’t only determine how Americans vote at the polls. It’s trickling down to impact where they live, who they hang out with, and what they read and watch. A quarter of Democrats said they’d be upset if a family member married a Republican. Just under a third of conservatives said the same about liberals.

“I’m in the gun business with Smith and Wesson. That tends to be to the right. It’s more comfortable to be with people who agree with you and fewer fights that way. Although I welcome a good healthy political debate,” said Allan Bender from Longmeadow.

Americans with the most uniform views are the most likely to be politically engaged — donating to campaigns and voting on election day. That fuels the fire in Washington, which means this political polarization is not likely to melt away anytime soon.

“Lawmakers love to say, ‘Oh gosh, we agree with ya. We want change too. Isn’t this terrible.’ The reality? The more it stays the same, the less work they’ve got to do. The less innovative they’ve got to be, the less they have to come up with great new ideas,” said political consultant Tony Cignoli.

One reason behind Americans’ deep divide — their ability to connect. Social media makes it easier than ever for special interest groups to reach out to voters, motivate and organize them by their views.

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