Professors: Political divide wide a year later

Data shows America still divided among political party lines. PHOTO/XAVIER HERSHOVITZ

OU News Bureau

It has been a year since the election of Donald Trump.

So much has happened in that year, but so little has changed. Recent Pew Research shows the partisan divide continues to grow, showing a nation still as greatly divided today as it was on Election Day 2016.

Professor Terri Towner, an associate professor of political science at Oakland University, said America’s divide has much to do with its leader.

“We just don’t have a rally around a leader that would unite us as country at this point,” Towner said.

Political polarization has been on the rise, mainly because of the “red” vs. “blue” policies of Congress, according to Towner.

Terri Towner

The election results were a shock to much of the country, mainly because all the polls pointed to a President Hillary Clinton and they were just wrong. Towner said that was a wakeup call to pollsters to get better samples of voters.

“They realized you can’t just go to one district and do a survey, you have to get an overall picture and look at those demographics because they matter,” Towner said.

Mixed method polling has now become much more the norm, so you are reaching various kinds of people, according to Towner.

Professor David Dulio, chairman of OU’s political science department, agreed that political unity isn’t on the horizon.

“People have gotten more entrenched, whatever side you are on, whatever corner you are in. People have hunkered down in those,” Dulio said.

David Dulio

Presidential job approval ratings often measure the “success” of American presidents. Dating back to President Harry Truman, every president has started the Gallup poll above the 50 percent mark except Trump. In fact, Trump’s approval rating is the lowest at this point of any modern presidency.

But that changes when you look at his base. In a recent CNN poll, 66 percent of Republicans approve of Trump’s job performance.

“Trump voters still support him, and if you didn’t vote for Trump, you are not coming his way.” Dulio said.

Both say these divisions are not going away anytime soon.

“It’s getting worse,” Dulio said. “It may get even worse before it gets better.”

Towner said that has much to do with the choices at the ballot box.

“We do have moderates, independents and Libertarians in this country, but unfortunately all their choices at the ballot box are either Democrat or Republican,” Towner said. “So we are probably going to look like a polarized nation for many years to come.”




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