Many Americans think people in the other party are ignorant, spiteful, evil and generally destroying the country, according to a new Axios poll by SurveyMonkey, aired on HBO on Sunday night. 61% of Democrats see Republicans as "racist/bigoted/sexist." 31% of Republicans say they view Democrats in the same light.
Why it matters: If Americans are this convinced that the other side isn't just wrong, but dumb and evil, they'll never be able to find enough common ground to solve real problems. And they're more likely to elect leaders who can't do it, either.
The suspicion runs so deep that a third of all Americans say they'd be disappointed if a close family member married someone whose partisanship didn't match their own, according to the poll for "Axios on HBO."
- The percentage saying they'd be at least somewhat bothered by this jumps to 50% among liberal Democrats; it's 32% among conservative Republicans.
- For both parties, more moderate affiliates are about 20 percentage points less likely to say they'd be disappointed.
Where it stands: About half of Democrats think Republicans are ignorant (54%) and spiteful (44%). Likewise, about half of Republicans think Democrats are ignorant (49%) and spiteful (54%).
- 21% of Democrats think Republicans are evil, and about the same share of Republicans (23%) think Democrats are evil.
How Democrats view Republicans:
- Of the 22% who provided open-ended descriptions of Republicans, responses included: selfish, greedy, corrupt, spineless, fearful and bad.
How Republicans view Democrats:
- Of the 26% who provided open-ended descriptions of Democrats, responses included: socialist, angry, hypocritical, uniformed, power-hungry and violent.
The other side: Good news! A handful of people think their fellow Americans are OK.
- 4% of both parties think the other side is fair.
- 3–4% of both parties think the other side is thoughtful.
- 2–3% of both parties think the other side is kind.
Yes, but: The share of Americans who have more generous impressions is roughly equal to the poll's margin of error, which is 3%.
The bottom line: Both parties are being redefined around the extreme emotions shaping extremely ugly views of each other. That means that, as the midterm elections proved, there's less room for moderates or centrists in the current political environment — a dynamic that's likely to get worse before it gets better.
Methodology: This analysis is based on a SurveyMonkey online poll conducted among adults ages 18 and older in the United States. Respondents from this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day.
- Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over. This survey was conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 2 among 3,700 adults. The modeled error estimate for the full sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points. Full crosstabs are available here.
- Modeled error estimates: Total ±3, Republicans ±4, Independents ±6.5, Democrats ±3.5, Never Hillary Independent voters ±10, age 18 to 34 ±5, Rural voters ±5, African-American women ±8, White suburban women ±6.