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.
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