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Science says Americans treat political parties like football teams regardless of their actual beliefs

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The politics that divide Americans has more to do with sports than it does with complex political issues, a new study revealed.

According to reporter Zaid Jilani, writing for The Intercept, Americans are more motivated by labels or “teams” like “liberal” and “conservative” as if they are wearing a football jersey. When it comes to the specifics like marriage equality, women’s rights or immigration, the teams are a little fuzzy.

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Professor Lilliana Mason at the University of Maryland outlined in her paper “Ideologues Without Issues: the Polarizing Consequences of Ideological Identities,” how Americans are becoming increasingly politically polarized.

Using 2016 data from Survey Sampling International and American National Election Studies, Mason found that political identities were more predictable than preferences on social interaction. Essentially, if one identifies as liberal, they are more likely to live next to other liberals. However, on issues, if someone is more likely to oppose an issue like abortion, not so.

“The effect of issue-based ideology is less than half the size of identity-based ideology in each element of social distance,” she wrote. “These are sizable and significant effects, robust to controls for issue-based ideology, and they demonstrate that Americans are dividing themselves socially on the basis of whether they call themselves liberal or conservative, independent of their actual policy differences.”

She told Jilani that there have been debates among political scientists about whether the American public is actually polarized.

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“I’m sort of making this argument that as you have multiple social identities that line up together, people hate their out groups more regardless of their policy positions,” she said.

She went on to explain that those who identify as strongly conservative, even if they have more left-leaning or right-leaning positions, they dislike liberals more than people who are soft on their “conservative” label.

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A recent Gallup poll revealed intermarrying along party lines is quickly declining. For those who have strong opinions about equality and women’s rights, marrying someone with strong opinions against can seem like a very personal attack on one’s values.

Mason fears such a finding could ultimately make democracy more difficult. For example, if a political candidate simply attacks the other side, they’re not going to move people one way or the other. Discussing issues can move soft conservatives to the center and vice versa. She suggested more people talking to their neighbors and those living around them about issues.

“The fact that even this thing’s that supposed to be about reason and thoughtfulness and what we want the government to do, the fact that even that is largely identity-powered, that’s a problem for debate and compromise and the basic functioning of democratic government,” Mason said. “Because even if our policy attitudes are not actually about what we want the government to do but instead about who wins, then nobody cares what actually happens in the government,. We just care about who’s winning in a given day. And that’s a really dangerous thing for trying to run a democratic government.”

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Read the full report at the Intercept.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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‘They love the meanest parts of him’: Conservative writer explains why evangelical Christians stick with Trump

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Ben Howe, a conservative writer and evangelical Christian who refuses to support Donald Trump, explained why fellow evangelicals continue to back the president despite his decidedly ungodly behavior.

Speaking with the Atlantic’s Emma Green about his new book The Immoral Majority, Howe — whose evangelical bona fides include attending pastor Jerry Falwell’s church as a kid — described evangelicals’ support for Trump, insisting “they love the meanest parts of him.”

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‘Mental midget’ Stephen Miller absolutely demolished in MSNBC blast at Trump’s ‘misfit’ advisers

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Given the opportunity to discuss two profiles on White House adviser Stephen Miller -- published by the Washington Post and the New York Times late Saturday -- Democratic consultant Don Calloway jumped in with both feet to trash the man he called a "mental midget"."

Asked p on MSNBC about the controversial Miller's outsized influence on Donald Trump, Calloway didn't hold back.

"What goes through your head when you hear how much influence Stephen Miller has on immigration policy?" host Alex Witt asked.

"Stephen Miller is a mental midget, that's the best thing I can say," Calloway began to the sounds of laughter offscreen.

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Black woman reveals how Trump is ruining her marriage: ‘My white Republican husband is starting to hate me’

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A black woman revealed over the weekend how President Donald Trump and right-wing media are straining her marriage.

In a Twitter rant on Saturday, a woman going by the name Glass Butterfly hit a nerve by starting a discussion about the challenges of interracial marriage in the age of Trump.

"My white Republican husband is starting to hate me because the longer we live through this administration the 'BLACKER' I become," she revealed. "Any interracially and opposing politically affiliated couples going through this? Like...I have NO idea how to balance who we are..or are becoming."

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