"I don't known 'em but I already don't like 'em" - a sentiment heard too often in our politically polarized nation.  On the Morning News we've spent the past few days talking about changing values, political parties, polarization and lack of common ground between the left and the right

There are many reasons for the growing divide but perhaps one contributing factor is a lack of accurate picture of just "who the other guy is"

The fivethirtyeight blog says the left-right division, "encapsulates all our other divides — by race, education, religion and more — and it’s growing.

The article goes on to ask an important question "But what if Americans’ views of the parties, particularly whichever one they don’t belong to, are, well, kind of wrong? That’s the argument of a study by scholars Douglas Ahler and Gaurav Sood that was recently published in The Journal of Politics"

In fact the study reveal a significant level of misinformation is at play in people's beliefs about people in the opposition Party,

For Example:

Republican believe 36% of Democrats are atheists or agnostic ...Democrats self report at 9%

Republican believe 46% of Democrats are Black ...Democrats self report at 24%

Republican believe 38% of Democrats are LBG ...Democrats self report 6%

Democrats believe 44% of Republicans are 65 yeas of age or older...Republicans self report at 21%.

Democrats believe 44% of Republicans are Evangelicals ....Republicans self report at 34%.

Democrats believe 44% of Republicans earn $250K or more per year...Republicans self report at 2 %.

The problems this can cause are obvious when the “the parties in our heads are not the parties in real life.” as study authors write.

 

One of the problems is losing sight of what's really important.  Voters begin to care more about partisan victory than about real policy outcomes. It plays out like - Our team's ideas are better than your teams's ideas just because they come from our team ... even if the policy outcomes are truly negative, we justify that by saying it's better than what the other team could do.

 

 

Check out the article. It explains in part, why we are they way we are, and it's a warning for the future.