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January 27, 2014 1:25 PM Public Aware of Asymmetric Polarization

By Ed Kilgore

Via Greg Sargent, Pew has a new survey out with this rather dramatic finding:

By a margin of 52% to 27%, the public says Democrats are more willing than Republicans to work with political leaders from the other party. A 54% majority also says the Republican Party is more extreme in its positions, compared with 35% of Democrats.
By a 20-point margin, the public sees Democrats (52%) as being more concerned than Republicans (32%) with the needs of people like themselves, while a plurality says Republicans are more influenced by lobbyists and special interests (47% vs. 30% saying Democrats).

On Twitter, Brian Beutler observes:

The public is WAY ahead of the punditocracy in its understanding of asymmetric political polarization

That would seem to be true.

Now both Pew and Greg note that the perception of Republicans are more extreme and less interested in compromise doesn’t automatically produce any sort of Democratic advantage on either issues or in actual elections. Democratic difficulties in message articulation might explain the first problem; the major GOP advantage in the 2014 landscape definitely explains the second. But it’s interesting and perhaps eventually significant that the “both sides are to blame” meme about polarization and dysfunctional government doesn’t have broader support despite its constant propagation in high-profile precincts of the MSM.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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