If the country were more polarized, you'd expect to find it in the polls. You don't. After scouring surveys, sociologist Paul DiMaggio of Princeton University concluded that "the public actually has become more unified in attitudes toward race, gender and crime since the 1970s." One standard poll item asks respondents to react to this statement: "I don't have much in common with people of other races." In 1987, 23 percent agreed; by 2002, only 15 percent did. Of course, strong disagreements (on abortion, for instance) remain. But these disguise large areas of consensus; 80 percent or more of Americans regularly support environmental regulation.Contrast Samuelson's column with David Brooks' column from yesterday. I was skeptical about Brooks' assertions and now Samuelson backs me up. Thanks, Bob.
What's even more absurd is the idea that regions have -- after jet travel, interstate highways, air conditioning, TV and mass migration -- become more different. Texas and New York have more in common now than in 1950 or 1960.
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Robert Samuelson disagrees with David Brooks that we're getting more and more divided by ideology.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 8:12 AM