What's Behind Our Divide?

By Sarah Barron

It's no secret that there is a deep political divide between Americans today. Some of the divide depends on class, gender or even what part of the country you live in, but mainly this division manifests itself in the political realm. The Pew Research Center has been following this growing political divide with their various in-depth reports on the polarzation in American public life. In a recent Pew study they found that Republicans and Democrats are further apart ideologically than ever before in history.

Democrats and Republicans More Ideologically Divided than in the Past

According to a Pew report covering the changes in political polarization in America over the last 20 years, the percentage of Americans who express "very liberal" or "very conservative" opinions has doubled since 1994. This has led to a decrease in the amount of ideological overlap between the parties. In other words, the number of members in each party that agree with some opinions of the other party has decreased. For example, the chart below shows that Democrats whose political values are "mostly liberal" has increased from 30% in 1994 to 56% in 2014. Similarly, the percentage of Republicans whose values are "mostly conservative" has increased from 45% in 1994 to 53% in 2014.