The American public is a lot less ideologically divided than our politics might lead one to believe. This is because the vast majority of the American people don’t actually have coherent ideologies, and view politics primarily through the lens of group identity. Ask the public about their views on discrete policy questions, and you’ll find there’s a good deal of bipartisan consensus on the defining issues of our moment: Recent polls have shown that most “conservative” Republicans support increasing federal spending on health care, and oppose cutting taxes on rich people.
But when it comes to group identity — and policy issues tightly wedded to those identities — boy howdy, are we a house divided. In the wake of the horrific Las Vegas shooting Sunday night, SurveyMonkey’s Jon Cohen dusted off these two Electoral College maps: one showing how 2016 would have played out if only gun-owning households had voted — the other, if only non-gun-owning ones did.
One can draw a couple conclusions from this map:
(1) There are few — if any — demographic variables that cleave the country as cleanly between parties as gun ownership. This may be because gun ownership is such an effective proxy for the urban vs. rural divide that has come to define our politics.
(2) Blue America won’t be winning the postapocalyptic civil war.
Notably, on concrete questions of gun policy, there is plenty of cross-partisan consensus. Virtually everyone but firearm manufacturers think universal background checks make sense. But at the end of the day, gun owners know that Republicans are for people like them — while Democrats are for stuck-up, urban elites; or corrupt globalists; or undeserving minorities; or the one-world government that wants to take everyone’s guns and put people in FEMA camps.
And so, for the moment, we’re stuck with a majority party that wants to make changes to taxes and spending that almost no one in America wants, while mass shootings come and go like bouts of bad weather.