Mar 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Americans agree about more issues than they realize

Data: Populace Inc.; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Many Americans assume the rest of the country doesn't share their political and policy priorities — but they're often wrong, according to new polling by Populace, first seen by Axios.

Why it matters: The polling reveals that despite growing political polarization, Americans share similar long-term goals and priorities for the country.

Driving the news: Addressing climate change and preserving clean air and water landed in respondents' top 5 personal priorities for the future of the U.S. — but they believe those issues rank closer to the bottom for "most others."

  • Biden voters ranked climate issues higher than Trump voters, but successfully addressing climate change still landed in Trump voters' top 15 priorities.
  • Meanwhile, most people said they care very little about the U.S. being the most powerful country in the world, even though they suspect it to be a middle-of-the-road priority for others.
  • Priorities differed very little along gender, ethnicity, income and educational lines.

Nine issues showed up in the top 15 priorities for both parties' voters. Biden and Trump voters both expressed a sense of urgency to address five: access to high quality health care; safety in communities and neighborhoods; criminal justice reforms; help for the middle class; and modernized infrastructure.

  • Commitment to individual rights (such as free speech, peaceful assembly, to keep and bear arms and freedom of religion) landed in the top three priorities for both Biden and Trump supporters. It was the top priority for the group overall, too.
  • National unity for the sake of unity was consistently one of the lowest priorities.

How it works: Populace's polling techniques measure the ideals and opinions Americans personally hold, as well as what they perceive to be popular.

  • "We're social creatures," Populace President Todd Rose told Axios. Because of that, anytime an issue affects other people or is about identity, polling answers can be distorted — something the think tank is attempting to correct for.

The bottom line: "It's an intensity of differences on a small number of things... that is bleeding out into this perception of we just don't agree on anything," Rose said.

Methodology: The poll was conducted between January 21 and January 28th — the first week of the Biden administration. 2,010 U.S. citizens responded to the survey.

  • Because of the choice-based conjoint polling method, a typical margin of error doesn’t apply. Pollsters used Root Likelihood. Certainty scores are 85.3% for personal responses and 84.5% for perceived societal responses.
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