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Politics Podcast: Americans Aren’t As Polarized As The News Makes It Seem

Republicans and Democrats disagree on all manner of things. Surveys suggest they often don’t even like each other, and voting data shows they each commonly live among like-minded Americans. But in this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, political scientists Yanna Krupnikov and John Barry Ryan suggest that focusing on the left/right divide in American politics is reductive. By doing so, we are missing another important divide, one that may actually run counter to the idea that America is hopelessly conflicted between red and blue.

In their new book “The Other Divide,” they argue that the gulf between Americans who are deeply involved in politics and those who are not deserves more of our attention. In fact, they say, the kinds of partisans who are engaged enough to actually despise the other side only make up 15-20 percent of the country. The other 80 percent or so are focused on their daily lives and, in large part, don’t like politics or want to talk about them. Krupnikov and Barry Ryan argue it’s a problem that the 15-20 percent minority drive our understanding of the two parties and politics.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

Galen Druke is FiveThirtyEight’s podcast producer and reporter.