Tue June 5, 2012
From Our Readers: Unpacking Pew's Data On American Polarization
Starting today, we're trying something different. We've enlisted Marissa Alioto, an intern on NPR's social media desk, to comb through your comments and highlight those that are smart and insightful and can teach us all something. We know there is a wealth of knowledge there. We expect some of them to be opinion, but we hope others just point out something that moves a story forward. With that here is Marissa:
Our readers have been unpacking Pew's latest data, which, as we told you, found Americans are more polarized now than they have been in 25 years.
"Colin Brooks" pointed out the value of Pew's statistics in looking at alleged shifts within a single party:
"On the environment question, there was a (D) shift of 0% and an (R) shift of 39%. On unions: (D) shift 6%, (R) shift 15%. On regulation: (D) shift 9%, (R) shift 15%."
"Oscar Meyer" associated increases in average percentage point differences between Democratic and Republican "values" to political events, noting that years with a presidential turnover (1993, 2001, and 2009) kicked off a rise in polarity.
"Looks like things pretty well settled down to a steady state during the majority of Bush's admin and then took off once the meltdown occurred and has greatly increased more during Obama's reign than at any time since '87...I'd put the difference down more to the economy than strictly to the administration, even though the administrations have at least some responsibility for the economy."