Saturday, July 02, 2016

American Voters Have Become Increasingly Polarized

These charts were made from information provided in a new Gallup Poll (most recently done between June 14th and 23rd of a random national sample of 1,025 adults, with a 4 point margin of error). They have been doing a poll on presidential candidates since 1956, asking respondents to rate their opinions of the candidates as favorable or unfavorable.

The top chart shows the unfavorable rating of the candidates, and the bottom chart shows the "highly unfavorable" rating (those who really don't like them). Until this year, Barry Goldwater held the record at 47% unfavorable and 26% highly unfavorable. But this year, both candidates (Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump) have blown past Goldwater's numbers. Clinton is rated unfavorable by 50% and highly unfavorable by 33%. Trump does even worse -- being rated unfavorable by 59% and highly unfavorable by 42%.

We can draw a couple of conclusions. First, the demonization of Clinton by the right-wing for the last quarter of a century has had an effect. Second, the public really doesn't like Donald Trump.

But looking at those charts, I think it shows something else -- the increasing polarization of the American public towards politics. Note that the charts start going up about 1980 (especially the highly unfavorable chart). Before that time, it seems that the public voted for the candidate they thought would do the best job. Now it seems that they are voting more out of hatred for the opposing party.

Maybe I'm reading too much into the charts, but that's what it seems to show to me.

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