• Description

This Public Agenda/USA TODAY Hidden Common Ground report focuses on affective polarization, meaning negative feelings towards people whose political views differ from one's own. Findings from this nationally representative survey of American adults, fielded in September 2021, include:

  1. Americans are united in thinking that partisan hostility and divisiveness harm the country and want a less contentious nation.
  2. Most Americans actually do not have strongly unfavorable feelings towards either Democratic or Republican voters.
  3. Most Americans believe in the value of differences of opinion and dialogue, and many are trying to connect across partisan lines.
  4. A strong cross-partisan majority of Americans believe that the federal government should ensure voting rights for all, and a more modest majority believe that doing so would actually bring the country together. By contrast, partisan differences of opinion emerge starkly when people are asked about federal policies directly aimed at combating racism.
  5. To bring the country together, Americans agree on the need for better news and information; and, most want social media to stop amplifying divisiveness.
  6. Across partisan lines, most Americans agree that reducing the influence of money in politics would help bring the country together. Many people also believe that educational approaches would help unify the country.

The report concludes with reflections on the findings and implications for addressing affective polarization.