WASHINGTON (WMAL) — A new survey method finds equally informed Republican and Democratic voters aren’t too far from each other on the political spectrum after all.
A study, “A Not So Divided America,” compared the answers to 388 questions from the public in red Oklahoma, purple Virginia and blue Maryland.
The questions asked what the government should do about a wide range of complex policy issues — including the Iran nuclear deal and social security — and found that most people living in red districts/states disagreed with most people in blue districts/states on only four percent of the questions.
“Clearly, the gridlock in Congress is not driven by the people,” says Steven Kull, who led the study and is president of Voice of the People. “Although some research has shown partisan polarization in response to broad ideological slogans, on specific questions about what government should do, the study found hardly any difference between red and blue districts.”
Giving an informed general public a greater voice in Washington might actually even alleviate the gridlock; for 69 percent of the questions in the study, there were not statistically significant differences between the views in the red districts/states and the blue districts/states.
“What we’re trying to do [at Voice of the People] is create a way for the people to have a role in shaping public policy,” Kull told WMAL. “Members of Congress will rightly say about standard polls, ‘I don’t know that people necessarily know what’s really going on, and maybe they haven’t really heard some key arguments,’ so they are not so sure they should really be guided by that.”
Kull’s method educates survey respondents before they submit an answer. Respondents are given briefings that have been vetted by Democratic and Republican congressional aids as well as arguments from all sides of the issue.
“When people actually think it through and get all of the information, it’s really striking how much convergence there is between these states and also between Republicans and Democrats.”
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