Staid old Gallup knows how to get attention. Its Presidential Job Approval Center recently announced a new report with the provocative title: U.S. Muslims Most Approving of Obama, Mormons Least. The full results of this extraordinarily large sample of 88,000 interviews showed an even more dramatic division. Majorities of Muslims (72 percent), other non-Christians (59 percent), Jews (55 percent), and atheists (54 percent) supporting President Obama faced Catholics (51 percent), Protestants (58 percent), and Mormons (78 percent) opposing him.
It looks like the basis for a religious war. Then it gets even bleaker.
Only 34 percent of weekly church attendees and married persons supported Mr. Obama, with majorities of the unchurched and single women approving the job he was doing as President. The division becomes even more dramatic when one looks at race, with African Americans supporting him by 82 percent and Hispanics by 53 percent, and whites by only 30 percent.
Another very large poll of 10,000 by the Pew Research Center analyzed in its Political Polarization in the American Public registers an even deeper division by looking where people live and how that is related to what they think. Liberals told the pollsters that in choosing a place to live, they prefer a place with ethnic and racial diversity. Substantial majorities of liberals even prefer a place where houses are smaller and stores are near. Taking only the most liberal Americans, three-fourths say that proximity to art museums and theaters is important in deciding where to live. Large percentages of conservatives prefer to live where houses are larger and facilities are further away. Conservative majorities say that living near people who share their religious faith is an important feature in deciding where to purchase a home. Liberals and conservatives alike say it is important to live where people share their political views.
Looking at the two major political parties specifically, 20 years ago, one quarter of Republicans were more liberal than the median Democrat; and a fifth of Democrats were more conservative than the average Republican. Today, the typical Republican is more conservative than 94 percent of Democrats; and the typical Democrat is more liberal than 92 percent of Republicans.
Most Americans are not very ideological and “remain on the edges of the political playing field,” but the more ideological “make their voices heard through greater participation in every stage of the political process.” To them, beliefs count: 30 percent of consistent conservatives and 23 percent of consistent liberals say they would be unhappy if a family member married someone who voted with the other party. Half of all Americans and 73 percent of conservatives would be unhappy if a family member married someone who did not believe in God.
The country is divided, but what journalist Ben Domenech calls the “governing cartel” in politics and the media demands a single national solution to every problem. Barack Obama aimed at a “transformational” program like Franklin Roosevelt’s. But the country is much more divided today, and on deeper matters. And few think government bureaucracy works anymore. In his new book Citizenville, the former Democratic mayor of San Francisco and now Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom argues that “top-down, bureaucratic, hierarchical government [is] choking our democracy.” He adds: “We need to allow people to bypass government . . . to look to themselves for solving problems rather than asking the government to do things for them.”
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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom