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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

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker