Americans increasingly hate the political opposition.  In the late 1970s the average American viewed the other party from a nearly neutral perspective. Today 21% of Americans have no positive views of the other party and 86% have overall negative assessments of the political opposition. Each decade the pattern has accelerated, prompting scholars to observe that although most Americans have an extremely poor understanding of issues, policies, and candidates for office, what little information they have is enough to drive hatred of the other side.  Partisan competition transformed Americans to see the other party in much the same way that Red Sox fans view the Yankees.

86% of Americans report a negative assessment of the other party and 21% see nothing positive in the other party

Americans not only hate the other party, but they are increasingly unsure of the trustworthiness of American institutions. Just less than 40% of Americans are not proud to be an American, 31% think they are treated fairly by the government, and 79% think their member of Congress would accept a bribe.

20% of Americans take no pride in being American, 31% think the government treats them fairly, and 79% think their member of Congress would accept a bribe.

Partisan hatred even extends into personal life. Nearly 40% of parents report that they would be upset if their son or daughter married someone from a different political party. In scholarship applications, job interviews, and on dating sites sharing partisanship decreases scholarship awards, interviews, and dates from the other side even if you are more meritorious or otherwise a better match than someone from the other party. Partisanship closes doors before Americans have a chance to show their values and merit.

Partisanship closes doors before Americans have a chance to show their values and merit.

Many Americans have no personal contact with the other party and live in neighborhoods that are not politically diverse. When they go online they avoid news that disagrees with the political ideology and on social networks face a growing filter bubble where they are shown content by algorithms that prioritize clicks over exposing citizens to a plurality of ideas.

Americans are increasingly retreating into isolated partisan tribes.

The news is not all bad. Despite hating the other side, a super majority of Americans stand behind core democratic principles: free speech, fair elections, and independent courts. However, nearly 30% support at least one democratic norm violation.

30% of Americans support at least one democratic norm violation

Though loudly proclaimed by pundits and activists as a core threat to society, nearly all Americans (98%) oppose political violence. Small groups may incite violence against partisans and the government, but these are isolated individuals who are acting against the will of the general public.

Nearly all Americans (98%) oppose political violence.

What can we do? The first step is to monitor the rapid changes occurring in our society to ensure we can correctly respond to changes in partisan rancor and support for norm violations. Our data show that citizens are less extreme than their elected officials and more supportive of democratic principles. We believe the key to improving our society is to pressure elected officials to disagree better, with civility and principle.  Americans are watching and model the behavior of their elected officials.  Everyday Americans can reduce partisan animosity by unfollowing conflict entrepreneurs on social media, diversifying the news they consume, and avoiding assuming the worst about the members of the other party.