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A new study of the American electorate by researchers at Rice University and Stanford University shows that despite declining response rates to political surveys, people are more polarized than ever.

Evidence of political polarization in the US comes mostly from a single source. American National Election Studies (ANES) realization of thermometer time series. While historical response rates have been as high as 80%, response rates have fallen below 50% in recent years.

“Done. The response rate called into question the validity of reports of extreme political differentiation, which is why we wanted to dig deeper. “Also, more people are taking surveys online than in the door-to-door format,” said Matthew Tyler, assistant professor of political science at Rice and lead author of the study published online. American Political Science Review.

To assess whether the survey provides an accurate measure of political polarization, Stanford’s Tyler and study co-author Shantu Iyengar considered several reasons why the ANES may make polarization worse than it actually is.

For example, some people who really care about them. Surveys can be over-represented; People who identify strongly with their party may be more likely to participate, making the consequences more severe. Reading about politics during a survey can make people feel more negatively about the other party. And letting people take online surveys can give different results.

“Our results suggest that the way the ANES survey is conducted can make the effective polarization worse than it actually is. But even after we accounted for it, we found that People are still becoming more negative towards the other side over time.” . “This shows that the increase in negative sentiment toward the other party is real and not just because of how surveys are conducted.”

To reach this conclusion, the researchers compared the ANES survey with a much less political one. General Social Survey“Defined as the only fully prospective, personal interview survey currently conducted in the United States designed to monitor changes in both social characteristics and attitudes.”

The researchers then developed a survey evaluation method that mimics less politically charged questionnaires that ask about lifestyle choices, living environments, consumer decisions, food preferences and other information. had gone.

“The idea behind the design of this survey was to target and evaluate people who were not on the extreme left or the extreme right. ” Tyler said.” We wanted to better understand how mainstream people feel about the political climate today.

Ultimately, the researchers found that even more mainstream Americans are feeling more polarized than ever. Tyler said he hopes future work will examine how this can be reduced, especially when people are spending more time on social media than interacting in person. are as in the past.

More information:
MATTHEW TYLER et al, Examining the robustness of ANES to effective polarization indicators of thermometers, American Political Science Review (2023). DOI: 10.1017/S0003055423001302

Provided by
Rice University

Reference: Are American voters really as polarized as they seem? Research Shows ‘Yes’ (2024, February 20) Retrieved February 20, 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2024-02-american-voters-polarized.html

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