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Expand chart
Data: NORC survey of 523 registered voters, Sept. 2019; Note: Support is share of voters who said they supported policies between 6-10 on a 0 (oppose) to 10 (support) scale; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Most Americans would move toward the center on policies including health care, immigration and the minimum wage if Republican and Democratic voters spent more time together face-to-face — or at least that's the takeaway from "America in One Room," a social experiment conducted over a single weekend last month in Dallas.

Why it matters: As Congress considers impeachment and voters brace for another divisive election, the experiment suggests there could be another way for the politics of the future.

  • Policies might change if voters had more opportunities to be pulled away from polarized echo chambers that strangle the movement of public opinion.

The big picture: Political tribalism thrives when voters create a self-satisfying bubble stoked online and through the TV shows they watch. But moderation prevailed offline — even at a time when both parties are moving to the extremes.

  • Henry Elkus, founder of Helena, a nonpartisan problem-solving organization that hosted the experiment, acknowledged it's a "weird utopia" designed to counteract the everyday, polarized experience most people live in — but there's already talk of how they can replicate and scale this ahead of the 2020 election.

Between the lines: This controlled environment isn't the reality for most Americans. We're tantalized by social media and political hot takes and "alternative facts."

  • But this study is consequential for policy because it reveals how people actually think about the most important issues when they're not confused by the noise.

The results showed Republican participants weren't wedded to policies that are farther to the right, nor were Democratic participants dug in on far-left policies.

  • Republicans softened on “reducing the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the US” by large margins before and after their weekend of deliberation and discussion with policy experts, candidates, and people they had never met.
  • They warmed to ideas such as like continuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, increasing visas for low-skilled workers from other countries, and allowing everyone to buy a public health care plan like Medicare.
  • Democrats weren't as steadfast about increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour, baby bond programs, free college tuition, or automatically enrolling people in a "more generous" version of Medicare the more they talked about it.

What they're saying: "If we don’t figure out a way of instilling some connection between what people want and what happens, Democracy will lose its legitimacy," Jim Fishkin, a professor at Stanford’s Center for Deliberative Democracy, which partnered with Helena for America in One Room, told Axios.

  • "I believed going in, because I see this on TV, that it’d be full of ad hominem attacks and personal strife," Elkus said. "But there was so little of that. There was actual nuanced, respectful discussion."
  • "Maybe our country isn’t screwed," he added.

Methodology: Participants were asked to rank on a scale from 0 to 10 how much they oppose (0) or support (10) these policies ahead of the weekend-long workshop and after the four days of deliberation. During the weekend they were guided by a 55-page handbook compiled by policy experts from both parties arguing for and against each proposal, and they attended small-group discussion sessions with these experts. The voters who were included in our chart are only people who scored 6 to 10 on these issues before and after the weekend’s discussions.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

First look: Anita Dunn advises Dems on economy message for '22

Signs from a President Biden event yesterday in Kansas City, Mo. Photo: Chase Castor/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In a midterm preview, top Democratic strategist Anita Dunn advises the party's House and Senate members to frame Republicans "as being against the economic interests of working Americans."

What she's saying: "Explicitly framing Republicans as opposing policies to lower costs does better than simply framing Republicans as the 'party of no,'" Dunn, White House senior adviser until August, writes in the memo.

JPMorgan: "Full global recovery" in 2022

Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase Global Research says in a forecast to clients: "2022 will be the year of a full global recovery, an end of the global pandemic, and a return to normal conditions we had prior to the COVID-19 outbreak."

The big picture: The bullish report sees "a return of global mobility, and a release of pent-up demand from consumers (e.g. travel, services)."

Inside Trump's hunt for "disloyal" Republicans

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Donald Trump and his associates are systematically reshaping the Republican Party, working to install hand-picked loyalists across federal and state governments and destroy those he feels have been disloyal, sources close to the former president tell Axios.

Why it matters: If most or all of Trump’s candidates win, he will go into the 2024 election cycle with far more people willing to do his bidding who run the elections in key states.

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