Abortion battle threatens to deepen American divide

A study found that Democrats and Republicans in Congress are further apart ideologically than at any time in the past half-century. Public opinion about its presidents has become more divided along partisan lines than at any time in polling history. House districts have become so rock-solid Liberal or Conservative that only a few dozen will be truly competitive in this fall’s election.

“Really, in all areas of politics, you see evidence of partisan polarization,” said Carroll Doherty, director of policy research at the Pew Research Center.

Increasingly, Americans are separating into their own safe spaces – geographically, culturally, ideologically, factually and metaphorically. Not only do they stick to news channels or social media accounts that reinforce their views, but they choose to live and socialize with those who share their views.

In 1960, 4% of Democrats and Republicans said they would be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party. Today, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, that number has risen to 35% among Republicans and 45% among Democrats. In just four years, the Institute for Family Studies has found, marriages in America between Republicans and Democrats have dropped by half. As it stands, in 2016 only 9% of marriages involved couples from opposite parties; by 2020, that figure had fallen to just 4%.

Lilliana Mason, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s SNF Agora Institute, said her research shows Americans don’t even want to live next door to someone on the other side. “Our realities are becoming different. The people we surround ourselves with have completely different accounts of what is happening in America,” she said.

Ms. Mason, who released her latest book Friday, “Radical American Partisanship: Mapping Violent Hostility, Its Causes, and the Consequences for Democracy,” co-authored with Nathan P. Kalmoe, said the fragmentation of abortion laws in a Post-Roe America would only exacerbate these trends as people sought to live in states where they agreed with the new laws.

“The fact that we’ve moved away physically makes us hate each other more,” she said. “It’s easy to dehumanize someone you’ve never met. It encourages the kind of us versus them thinking that creates this huge election stake – if they win the election, it’s all over.