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Ethan C. Busby
Brigham Young University
Adam J. Howat
Jacob E. Rothschild
Reality Check Insights
Richard M. Shafranek
Sample size: 2018
Field period: 06/07/2018-12/17/2018
Affective polarization: The difference in feeling thermometer ratings for the Democratic Party and Republican Party.
Personal ideological polarization: A 7-point scale describing the respondent’s ideological views from extremely liberal to extremely conservative, folded into a 4-point scale where higher values indicate greater ideological extremity.
Perceived ideological distance between the parties: The difference in 7-point ideology ratings of “people who support the [Democratic/Republican] Party” and of “[Democrats/Republicans] in Congress.”
Partisan identity importance: a 5-point scale from “not important at all” to “extremely important” indicating the importance of the respondent’s party identification.
Preference for partisan social distance: The degree to which the subject agreed with the statement “You would be displeased if a family member dated someone who supports the [Democratic/Republican] Party” on a 5-point scale from “agree strongly” to “disagree strongly.” (Partisans were asked about the opposing party, independents about both parties.)
Treatments showed no significant effects with respect to affective polarization. However, subjects in the traits condition proved more ideologically polarized than those in the issues condition; interestingly, a partisan breakdown of these results revealed significant effects among Democrats and independents but not Republicans. Moreover, Democrats in the groups condition showed a greater degree of ideological polarization than those in the traits condition.
With respect to perceived polarization, participants in the issues condition perceived less ideological distance between both rank-and-file and congressional partisans. Those in the traits condition perceived greater polarization than those in the control group.
Subjects in the issues condition also expressed less desire for social distance from outpartisans. They also rated their partisan social identity as less important.