By GLENN MINNIS
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — More than four of every 10 voters now feels as if the country is severely divided, with a combined 20% of individuals admitting that they have stopped talking with a family member or friend because of politics, according to a new State Policy Network poll.
In the SPN poll of 2,005 voters conducted in partnership with Morning Consult between Feb.16-19, researchers found 21% of respondents agreed, “I have a family member I don’t talk about politics with anymore because it has become too divisive” and another 22% of individuals said the same about a friend.
SPN messaging strategist Erin Norman told The Center Square the growing division strikes her as a sign of the times.
“I’m not sure people are more divided although I can understand why people have that perception,” she said. “We focus more on specific issues or policies that are framed as black-and-white but when you get into longer discussions, most people are actually somewhere in the middle and can see merits to the points the opposing sides make. The narrative of a divided nation, another Civil War, or ‘the most important election of our lifetime’ gets a lot of attention, which is why you see it so much, but it doesn’t match with how people in real communities live and interact.”
Despite the friction, pollsters found that 52% of respondents don’t report any major changes in their relationships or conversation topics with regard to politics.
Ms. Norman said a little more common decency could go a long way toward keeping the peace.
“We all need to be open to hearing the ‘why’ people have behind their opinions. Behind preferred candidates and policies, we share similar values of wanting the best life possible for our families, opportunity and progress,” she added. “When people connect on these shared values, it is much easier to accept that different people have different visions for how we might get there. I think political campaigns have taken advantage of a changing landscape but one that is broader than politics.”
The poll had a margin of error of 2%.