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Expand chart
Reproduced from "HiddenTribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape"; Chart: Axios Visuals

America is an increasingly diverse nation but a loud, hyper-active group of well-to-do whites on the left and right are tearing it apart from the edges, according to an astonishing new study of our electorate.

The big picture: 14% of America, roughly half left and half right, consistently shouts, posts and votes, while 67% of us are exhausted.

  • You have about 8% of Americans in the hard-left camp — almost all white (80%), all well-educated, all voting, all giving money and time to campaigns, all active on social media. Their combined voices dominate Democratic politics. 
  • You have about 6% in the hard-right camp — almost all white (88%), all well-educated, all voting, all giving money and time to campaigns, all active on social media. Their combined voices dominate Republican politics.
  • Oh, and these two groups basically hate everything about each other. 

This eye-opening breakdown comes from "Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape," by the international nonprofit group More in Common.

  • The report, one of the largest-ever studies of U.S. polarization, is based on an 8,000-person poll by YouGov, with about a 1% margin of error.
  • I learned about the study from a column by the N.Y. Times' David Brooks ("The Rich White Civil War: A smarter look at America’s divide"), who said these two extreme wings of U.S. politics have become "cultish."

The study finds that America's two extreme wings comprise just 14% of the population, "yet it often feels as if our national conversation has become a shouting match between these two groups."

  • The left wing's "Progressive Activists" are "deeply concerned with ... equity, fairness. ... They tend to be more secular, cosmopolitan, and highly engaged with social media." In raising children, they value independence, creativity and curiosity.
  • The right wing's "Devoted Conservatives" feel that "America is embattled, and they perceive themselves as the last defenders of traditional values." In raising children, they emphasize respect, obedience and manners. (A larger, less activist cohort, "Traditional Conservatives" is — like both extremes — racially homogenous: 79% white.)

I interviewed one of the study's co-authors, Stephen Hawkins, research director of More in Common USA, who told me the two wings are "talking to each other too little, with too much suspicion and too little giving credit."

  • "They have inverse world views, but what they have in common is that they're very consistent," Hawkins said. "You could even maybe use the word 'dogmatic,' or 'ideologically rigid.'"

Be smart ... Good news for third-party dreamers: Tw0-thirds of Americans (the study's "Exhausted Majority") have had it with this white fight — and yearn for something new.

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Go deeper

36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Group of 20 bipartisan senators back $1.2T infrastructure framework

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) arrives for a meeting with Senate Budget Committee Democrats in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol building on June 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Majority Leader and Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee are meeting to discuss how to move forward with the Biden Administrations budget proposal. Photo: Samuel Corum / Getty Images

A group of 10 Democratic and 10 Republican senators (the "G20") tasked with negotiating an infrastructure deal with the White House has released a statement in support of a $1.2 trillion framework.

Why it matters: Details regarding the plan have not yet been released, but getting 10 Republicans on board means the bill could get the necessary 60 votes to pass.

DOJ drops criminal probe, civil lawsuit against John Bolton over Trump book

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The Justice Department has closed its criminal investigation into whether President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton disclosed classified information with his tell-all memoir, “The Room Where it Happened," according to a source with direct knowledge.

Why it matters: The move comes a year after the Trump administration tried to silence Bolton by suing him in federal court, claiming he breached his contract by failing to complete a pre-publication review for classified information. Prosecutors indicated they had reached a settlement with Bolton to drop the lawsuit in a filing on Wednesday.

Fed may raise rates sooner, as inflation is higher than expected

Feb chair Jerome Powell. Photo: Susan Walsh/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve kept rates unchanged at its latest policy meeting, but a shift in sentiment emerged as to how soon it should begin raising rates.

Why it matters: The Fed's rock-bottom rates policy and monthly asset purchases helped the U.S. markets avoid a meltdown during the COVID-19 crisis last year. But as the economy recovers, a chorus is growing for the Fed to at least consider a timeline for pulling back its support before things get overheated.