Partisan Polarization Reaching Record Levels

Two nations. Photo: John Lund/Getty Images

As House Democrats make a powerful case for Trump’s impeachment and removal that Senate Republicans are determined to ignore, Gallup supplies evidence that partisan polarization has reached new heights in the Trump Era:

Eighty-two percentage points separated Republicans’ (89%) and Democrats’ (7%) average job approval ratings of President Donald Trump during his third year in office. This is the largest degree of political polarization in any presidential year measured by Gallup, surpassing the 79-point party gap in Trump’s second year in office.

That’s in a record of data that goes back 65 years, to the Truman administration, encompassing all sorts of ups and downs in overall presidential job approval. It is simply amazing that Trump is now regularly exceeding Ronald Reagan’s average job approval rating among Republicans of 83 percent. And the notable gap isn’t just the one between Ds and Rs, but between Republicans and independents:

[W]hile Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans to date would register as one of the highest in history, his ratings among independents are on pace be the lowest from that group for any president by a significant margin. To date, Trump has averaged 35% job approval among independents, including 38% in his third year in office. All other post-World War II presidents registered approval above 40% among independents during their terms, with Jimmy Carter’s 42% the lowest.

Yes, some of these developments are a product of the ideological sorting out of the two major parties that since the 1960s has steadily reduced the once-robust numbers of liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. But still, the wildly different ways in which Democrats and Republicans see objective reality — and various aspects of the presidency of the strange “populist” bully in the White House — are real, abiding, and not the product of elite discourse. Many pundits are prone to hyperventilation about the phony dramatics of elites who are thwarting the overwhelming desire of the American people to eschew partisanship and ideology, meet in the middle and get stuff done. They need to come to grips with the fact that polarization is indeed a mass phenomenon reflecting very real differences in how people want this country governed. It’s time to get used to it.

Partisan Polarization Reaching Record Levels