Monday, June 24, 2019
As reported by Yascha Mounck of Johns Hopkins in The Atlantic, a group called More in Common has released a study called "The Perception Gap," showing the divergence between what people of one political party think the other party's members believe, and what they actually do believe. For example,
Democrats ... estimated that four in 10 Republicans believe that “many Muslims are good Americans,” and that only half recognize that “racism still exists in America.” In reality, those figures were two-thirds and four in five.
Unsurprisingly, Republicans are also prone to caricature Democrats. For example, Republicans approximated that only about half of Democrats are “proud to be American” despite the country’s problems. Actually, more than four in five Democrats said they are. Similarly, Republicans guessed that fewer than four in 10 Democrats reject the idea of open borders. Actually, seven in 10 said they do.
And education doesn't help--the study "found that the best educated and most politically interested Americans are more likely to vilify their political adversaries than their less educated, less tuned-in peers":
Americans who rarely or never follow the news are surprisingly good at estimating the views of people with whom they disagree. On average, they misjudge the preferences of political adversaries by less than 10 percent. Those who follow the news most of the time, by contrast, are terrible at understanding their adversaries. On average, they believe that the share of their political adversaries who endorse extreme views is about 30 percent higher than it is in reality.
Finally, the intensifying effect of higher education is skewed--it makes Democrats caricature their opponents more than it makes Republicans do so:
Perhaps because institutions of higher learning tend to be dominated by liberals, Republicans who have gone to college are not more likely to caricature their ideological adversaries than those who dropped out of high school. But among Democrats, education seems to make the problem much worse. Democrats who have a high-school degree suffer from a greater perception gap than those who don’t. Democrats who went to college harbor greater misunderstandings than those who didn’t. And those with a postgrad degree have a way more skewed view of Republicans than anybody else.
I can't vouch for the study's methodology. But the results are worth looking at: they are striking, even if not especially surprising.