Friday, October 01, 2021


You might believe that the Republican Party is an extremist organization that's leading America in a very dangerous direction, but Larry Sabato's University of Virginia Center for Politics is here to tell you that both sides do it.
The University of Virginia Center for Politics has partnered with Project Home Fire, a new initiative dedicated to finding common ground in American politics, on an innovative new data analytics and polling project to explore the social, political, and psychological divides between those who voted for Donald Trump and those who voted for Joe Biden in 2020.

Some of the key takeaways from today’s release are....

— Majorities — often large majorities — of both Biden and Trump voters express some form of distrust for voters, elected officials, and media sources they associate with the other side. A strong majority of Trump voters see no real difference between Democrats and socialists, and a majority of Biden voters at least somewhat agree that there is no real difference between Republicans and fascists....
The numbers here could lead to a great deal of bothsidery pundit hand-wringing:

The mainstream media has relentlessly attacked President Biden since the fall of Afghanistan, yet 88% of Trump voters believe that "the mainstream media might as well be a part of the Democratic Party." Meanwhile, a somewhat smaller percentage of Biden voters believe that "the conservative media might as well be a part of the Republican Party," which is unambiguously correct.

Apart from that, my top takeaway from these numbers is that there's a huge disconnect between Democratic voters and Democratic politicians. A majority of Democratic voters at least somewhat agree that there's no difference between Republicans and fascists -- but Democratic politicians rarely, if ever, use the f-word to describe members of the GOP. By contrast, Republican politicians refer to Democrats as socialists every day -- and not just proud bomb-throwers like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn.

Republicans believe Democrats are extremists despite the fact that Democratic officeholders routinely negotiate with Republicans whenever they're in power, while Republicans in power simply ram through as much of their agenda as they can with no attempts at bipartisanship. And on issues such as universal health coverage, gun violence, and addressing climate change, America is to the right of the mainstream conservative parties in every industrialized democracy, and Democrats are regularly thwarted in their efforts to inch the country a bit to the left on those issues. Somehow that makes them socialists.

We're given other survey results showing that, despite partisan animosity, Trump and Biden voters agree on many issues:

But the obvious point is ignored: Both sides largely agree on a Democratic agenda, one that's opposed by nearly every Republican officeholder and supported by nearly every Democratic officeholder. One reason Democrats are angry at Republicans is perfectly rational: These policies can't be enacted because Republicans block them. By contrast, the Trump voters who support all of this routinely vote for Republicans who don't support any of these policies.

Republicans really have gerrymandered their way to anti-democratic permanent majorities in the legislatures of many states. Republicans really have passed laws making it harder to Democrats to vote, as well as laws giving legislatures the right to overturn election results they don't like. Republican voters and many Republican officeholders really did support an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Republican states are trying to ban abortion, thwart efforts to contain COVID-19, and silence any talk in schools of racial difficulties in American history. But the Democratic voters who find this extreme will now be seen as just as bad as the Republicans who cry "Socialism!" when Democrats try to back solar energy or higher taxes on Amazon.

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