Do Republicans and Democrats really hate each other? Not as much as you think, study says

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PHILADELPHIA — Political polarization in America may be at its highest point in decades. Sometimes, it can seem like Republicans and Democrats hate their political opponents more than they love their own side. However, a new study finds that hatred doesn’t run as deep as many may think. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania say negative partisanship is largely exaggerated — with political agents and the media mainly responsible for stoking those flames.

A team from Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication set out to answer two questions: First, how widespread is partisan hatred? Then, is that hatred really more intense than an American’s love for their own party?

Using several different methods, including a survey examining how political polarization and hatred of an opponent affects party affiliation, researchers found that the main reason Americans choose their political party has more to do with love than hate. The team also looked at how loyal voters are to their party based on their hatred of the opponent. To do this, they used an experiment which separated hurting the opposing political party monetarily and helping their own party monetarily.

The results continue to show voters are generally more interested in supporting their own political beliefs rather than hurting someone else’s. Moreover, the team notes the implications of continuing negative partisanship are problematic for society.

“If there’s this gap in how much you like your side and dislike the other side, and it’s all motivated by emotions, you’re less likely to hold presidents accountable for things and more likely to vote for your side no matter what they do, even when it’s corrupt,” says Professor Yphtach Lelkes in a media release. “If it’s just driven by hatred, then it’s not about interest groups and coming together and fighting for your group. It’s much more toxic.”

Pushing hatred for the clicks?

Study leader Amber Hye-Yon Lee hopes their findings can help Americans better understand what motivates their neighbors to think and vote the way they do.

“Many people are led to believe that the other side is driven by hatred and is out to get them,” Lee says. “Hatred only breeds hatred, so by showing that there is really no clear evidence for hatred of the other party trumping everything, I am hoping we can clear up some of the misperceptions people have about how much they are hated by their political opponents, and by extension, discourage people from feeding their own hostility in response to exaggerated perceptions of hostility coming from the other side.”

Lelkes adds that even scholars enjoy using the term “negative partisanship” in their studies because of the attention it can bring. The team also accuses news outlets of having a bias towards continuously covering events involving extreme emotion, political unrest, and polarizing subjects because they “garner more clicks” online.

“When we talk about politics being overwhelmingly negative, it leads to that,” Lelkes concludes. “We are wildly off in how we think the other side feels about us. We’re trying to tone that down.”

The findings appear in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

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  1. I hate democrats as I hate evil. Democrats are of a reprobate mind and their consciences have been seared in their rebellion against God’s natural order. They embrace the murder of innocent children in the mother’s womb. They support same sex marriage and every perversion against all that is good. I believe as lost as they are they cannot be redeemed because their hatred of God has blinded them.

  2. The press and politicians are definitely motivated to make things worse. They definitely can’t make money and keep getting elected with their knowledge and skill.

    Strong democrats and republicans are more alike than the rest of the population. They both like to force their idealogy on others and their “solutions” to problems usually make things worse. The political chart that is a circle where moderates are on one side and then the other side goes r/d and then ends with fascism/socialism is very accurate.

  3. Seems to me it’s the stoicism of Marcus Aurelius and the liberal conservatism of Blake vs. the violent existentialism of Sartre and the banal postmodern nihilism of Lyotard

  4. The representation of today’s Democrat in Congress, in the media and elsewhere is a party of division and hate. Period. You don’t follow the groupthink and you’re canceled. Republican representation in Congress, in the media and elsewhere can be equated to Newton’s Third Law.

    Careful what you ask for, you might get it.

  5. The divide is between two different realities. Both cannot be true. Seeking truth can unite us, but we cannot even agree on what is true. It seems that everything Democrats say is demonstrably false, but we can’t have a civil discussion. If you disagree their only response is to shout, “RACIST!”

  6. All the current issues with political division are easily addressed if people would just stop pushing solutions through the central government.

    Most hot button issues are minor enough to be addressed through state governments and people can simply move if they dislike the majority opinion. After that culturally we otherwise have a great deal in common.

  7. the demos started this with 8 years of the husseinO reign of terror as the Real Americans finally got feed up and realized its a war for the soul of the USA, which the dems hate …….. now we take names and count the days till……….

    “The most terrifying force of death comes from the hands of Men who wanted to be left Alone. They try, so very hard, to mind their own business and provide for themselves and those they love. They resist every impulse to fight back, knowing the forced and permanent change of life that will come from it. They know that the moment they fight back, their lives as they have lived them, are over.

    The moment the Men who wanted to be left alone are forced to fight back, it is a form of suicide. They are literally killing off who they used to be. Which is why, when forced to take up violence, these Men who wanted to be left alone, fight with unholy vengeance against those who murdered their former lives. They fight with raw hate, and a drive that cannot be fathomed by those who are merely play-acting at politics and terror. TRUE TERROR will arrive at these people’s door, and they will cry, scream, and beg for mercy… but it will fall upon the deaf ears of the Men who just wanted to be left alone.”

    – Author Unknown

  8. Wow. I see this kind of hate and violence online, but not in my friends. I have friends that are Republicans, Democrats, Trumpists, Never Trumpers, and Libertarians,but most of them are the same as the majority of US citizens: Independents without an allegiance to a party. They vote on issues and character. If all we can come up with is criticizing someone else’s solutions without offering any of our own- well there’s our character.

  9. Well the democrats are filthy scumbag pieces of shit diseased infested pigs that deserve to burn in hell with Satan where they belong. And these waste of humanity fools are trying to change the world as well.

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