Pew Finds that Americans are getting more polarized, especially about the social safety net

Anyone who visits this site ought to read Pew's recent study of political polarization.


As Americans head to the polls this November, their values and basic beliefs are more polarized along partisan lines than at any point in the past 25 years. Unlike in 1987, when this series of surveys began, the values gap between Republicans and Democrats is now greater than gender, age, race or class divides.

Overall, there has been much more stability than change across the 48 political values measures that the Pew Research Center has tracked since 1987. But the average partisan gap has nearly doubled over this 25-year period – from 10 percentage points in 1987 to 18 percentage points in the new study.


Political polarization is relatively evident to most who follow politics, but perhaps most interesting to me was the empirical evidence that fiscal issues are the most divisive.  Increasingly, Americans are tending to agree about issues like gay marriage, but, as evidenced by some jarring moments from the recent Republican primary debates, juxtaposed against the Occupy Wall Street movement, the issue of whether America should continue to provide a social safety net is the topic most likely to cause strife at the dinner table.

– Ravi Iyer