A tale of many Americas

Five charts on America’s divisions.

The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
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Next week Congress will hear witness testimonies and present learnings from the select committee’s January 6th investigation into the storming of the Capitol and the attempt to disrupt and overturn the certification of the 2020 presidential election. The question of election legitimacy has become a firebrand issue and rallying call for many on the right, staking out new ground in the culture war. While on the left, there are calls to save democracy.

That day, and all that preceded it, showed the depths of the country’s broken politics. Ahead of that, we’ve released a new poll with Axios to better understand where the country’s fault lines are, and where the potential places of connection exist in our divided nation.

Below are five charts on America’s divisions.

  1. Race Divides. Race remains one of the many major fault lines in the nation’s past and present. Even as a majority of people have had a meal with people who don’t share their race, fewer feel they have something in common with people who don’t share their race. Race cuts at the heart of American politics.Race divides
  2. Uncommon ground. These divisions are even more pronounced when we look at partisanship. While about half of people have shared a meal with someone of another party, only a quarter feel they have anything in common with the other side. Tribal and divided is where we stand.Partisanship bridging
  3. What isn’t political? How do those identities play out? Race and partisanship drive many of our tribal identities. It covers how we view everything from ‘professional athletes’ to ‘the American flag.’ A tale of two Americas—riddled with red and blue mines. Be careful where you tread.What isn't political?
  4. It’s Partisan. Partisanship is a really pronounced fault line in the country. Roughly half agree that people with opposing political views don’t share their values. Family dinners are difficult when both red and blue are at the table. No politics in polite company, please (unless our politics are the same).It's Partisan
  5. Pessimism of Unity. Few are confident that the nation will come together in the next five years. Black and Hispanic Americans, along with Democrats are slightly more confident. But, overall, the majority aren’t optimistic. It is a very elementary feeling. We only need to look around, and we see our seeds of disunion.Pessimism of Unity

The country is divided. These divisions that take center stage in America—namely, race and partisanship—are entrenched fault lines that don’t seem to be going anywhere. These cleavages have become the lens through which we see America.

Looking ahead to the Congressional hearing next week, our broken politics will be on display. Unfortunately, the hearings are shaping up to be just one more instance of our ongoing cultural war. The rallying cry for both sides? Division, Division, Division.

The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs

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