Is America as polarized as you think?

In this study, we argue that the perceived polarization of Americans along party lines is partially an artifact of the low response rates that characterize contemporary surveys. People who agree to participate in opinion surveys are more informed, involved, and opinionated about the political process and therefore hold stronger, more meaningful, and partisan political attitudes. This motivational discrepancy generates a bias in survey research that may amplify evidence of party polarization in the mass public. We test the association between response rates and measures of polarization using individual-level data from Pew surveys from 2004 to 2014 and American National Election Studies from 1984 to 2012. Our empirical evidence demonstrates a significant decline in unit response that is associated with an increase in the percentage of politically active, partisan, and polarized individuals in these surveys. This produces evidence of dissensus that, on some issues, may be stronger than exists in reality.

That is from a forthcoming piece by Cavari and Freedman in The Journal of Politics.  For the pointer I thank an anonymous correspondent.

And via Nathan, here is a relevant comment.

Comments

Surely Trump's position on Charlotte was entirely middle of the road and not polarizing at all. The Left endorsed their thugs trying to prevent some people exercising their First Amendment rights. Somewhere someone must have endorsed the anti-semitic chants.

And Trump observed, sensibly, that there were people among all those thugs who were not thugs themselves. On both sides.

The last thing you can call that is polarized. It is exactly half way between the extremes.

You are more than wrong. The vast majority of Americans remain totally opposed to those espousing the tenets of a genocidal ideology, and proud of America's prominent role in completely defeating Nazism.

That is not the issue. The issue is whether it is an offense deserving of a beating to stand next to someone as they signal that perhaps they are not totally alienated from Nazism.

The truth is that the jackbooted thugs were on the other side. Everyone who supports civil liberties ought to support the right of the Illinois Nazis to march. Even though Skokie.

signal that perhaps they are not totally alienated from Nazism.

They were signalling something a bit more than being "perhaps not totally alienated". Standing next to someone in a march is an act of solidarity, not of neutrality.

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Hazel's post is the product of the sickest media conspiracy: anyone who is not a progressive is a Nazi, as anyone who is not a progressive by definition stands closer on the spectrum to a Nazi. It's sick and it's disgusting and it fits perfectly with the extreme left's belief that violence against anyone not sufficiently leftist is desirable.

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'That is not the issue.'

Of course it is the issue. A group of torch light paraders chanting Nazi slogans included fine people according to our current President. The vast majority of Americans believe that it is impossible to chant Nazi slogans and also be a fine person.

'Everyone who supports civil liberties ought to support the right of the Illinois Nazis to march. Even though Skokie.'

Thanks for the opportunity to demonstrate how Americans in popular entertainment used to look at Illinois Nazis - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTT1qUswYL0 Of course they have the right to march in public - it is the best way to show how their fellow citizens view people publicly espousing a genocidal ideology. It also makes it much harder for fools to claim that somehow, Nazi slogan chanting marchers are anything but objects of contempt.

No one is disputing that the Nazis are objects of contempt. I am pretty sure that most Americans do not like Nazis. But not all the marchers were Nazis. Not all of them were chanting anything. Some people were just upset about a statue.

The West fought WW2 in order that people can march and chant. Even stupid things. This escaped the "anti-fa" thugs who were determined to assault people for exercising their First Amendment rights. I am pretty sure most people do not support that either. And despite demands that Trump endorse the thugs, he did not. He said the situation was more nuanced than that. As it was.

As of course you cannot begin to understand as you insist on reducing it to Black and White (so to speak) and continue to endorse the thugs.

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'No one is disputing that the Nazis are objects of contempt.'

Well, that seems to be the sort of opinion that those reading your comments can form on their own.

'I am pretty sure that most Americans do not like Nazis.'

'Like?' Most Americans despise anyone that consider themselves followers of that genocidal ideology.

'The West fought WW2 in order that people can march and chant.'

Nope. The 'West' mainly fought because the Nazis invaded their countries, and in the case of the U.S., because Hitler declared war on the United States of America. That the West represented such freedom was a secondary concern at the time. As can be seen in the case of how nations less devoted to such freedom, like Poland or the Soviet Union, reacted to the Nazis invading them.

'and continue to endorse the thugs'

Please, do point to a single statement of mine endorsing any 'thugs,' regardless of their political beliefs. Americans have the full right to express themselves in public, regardless of their political beliefs. They do not have a right to kill people by driving into a crowd, nor do they have a right to burn down buildings. Or is that not nuanced enough for you?

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There are Maoists at literally every rally. There were Maoist groups at the women’s marches. There were also plenty of good people. See how that works?

Is it even clear that the guy who killed the women did it on purpose rather than in panick trying to escape when his car was surrounded?

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'Is it even clear that the guy who killed the women did it on purpose'

You do know that he has been charged with murder, right? This is from December 2017 - 'A self-professed neo-Nazi who allegedly used his car as a lethal weapon, killing a woman and injuring 35 other people during a chaotic demonstration by white supremacists here in August, was charged with first-degree murder Thursday after being jailed for the past four months on a lesser homicide charge.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, who was arrested Aug. 12 in the death of 32-year-old counterprotester Heather D. Heyer, had been charged with second-degree murder, punishable by five to 40 years in prison. But moments after Fields entered a courtroom Thursday for a preliminary hearing — his first extended appearance before a judge since the violent demonstration — prosecutor Joe Platania announced that the main charge against him had been upgraded to first-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 20 years to life behind bars.

Authorities had initially said that 19 people were injured, in addition to Heyer, when Fields allegedly rammed his 2010 Dodge Challenger into another vehicle on purpose on a crowded street. But testimony at the preliminary hearing revealed that there were many more victims. Besides first-degree murder, Fields, who lived in Ohio before his arrest, is charged with eight counts of “aggravated malicious wounding,” meaning that at least eight of the 35 people who were hurt suffered what Virginia law describes as “permanent and significant physical impairment.”' https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/driver-accused-of-plowing-into-charlottesville-crowd-killing-heather-heyer-due-in-court/2017/12/13/6cbb4ce8-e029-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html?utm_term=.75c05b73a9e3

Do read the whole article, since you seem quite uninformed about the evidence, most particularly including video from a Virginia State Police helicopter.

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clockwork_prior March 13, 2018 at 8:24 am

You do know that he has been charged with murder, right?

And the Scotsboro Boys were charged with rape. Convicted even. He has not been convicted. He has not been tried. And for some reason everyone has gone very quiet about his case. That is odd. They are sealing the video too. We will have to wait and see what comes out at trial. Maybe, like Randy Weaver, he will walk away with an armful of cash. I wouldn't put it past the Feds these days.

And to return to the topic - obviously the answer is no. You have no evidence he did it on purpose. He cried when they told him he had hit someone.

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'And for some reason everyone has gone very quiet about his case.'

Apart from the reporting from Dec. 14, where the charges were changed to first degree murder, and expanded to include a number of injured people.

Or this - 'A Charlottesville judge has set a trial date for the Ohio man accused of killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens.

James Alex Fields Jr. appeared via video conference for a status hearing in Charlottesville Circuit Court Wednesday, January 3. He is charged with first-degree murder, five counts of malicious wounding, three counts of aggravated malicious wounding, and failure to stop in event of injury or death. All the charges are felonies.' http://www.nbc29.com/story/37184405/james-alex-fields-jr-01-03-2018

One can reasonably assume that once the trial begins Nov. 26 2018, we will have plenty of reporting. Likely including the footage from a Virginia State Police helicopter, the same footage used by the prosecution to change the charges against Fields to first degree murder.

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clockwork_prior March 13, 2018 at 8:34 am

Wait, you are saying that people cannot form their own opinions from reading what you write?

No, I am saying you have no class. Isn't that obvious?

Tell that to the Dutch, the Norwegians, the Greeks – one trusts you don’t need a full list of every country invaded in Western Europe by the Nazis in WWII.

So you have found three small countries that were invaded by the Germans. Well done. Now your bitter and cynical Green crayon version said that the West *mainly* went to war because the Germans invaded them. So you have three that were invaded. I have named two already that declared war first. Plus the British Empire. Mainly, huh?

This remains bizarre – I keep talking about and quoting Trump, and your answers tend to revolve around ‘anti-fa.’ So, here is Marco Rubio, another hard leftist, with his comments following Trump’s August 15 statement –

No, you keep cutting and pasting nonsense. Presumably because it makes you feel alive or something. But, boy, did the GOP escape a disaster with Rubio.

32 clockwork_prior March 13, 2018 at 8:42 am

Apart from the reporting from Dec. 14, where the charges were changed to first degree murder, and expanded to include a number of injured people.

Well yeah. It is wall-to-wall Trump hatred on CNN and yet they have not found time to mention it lately.

One can reasonably assume that once the trial begins Nov. 26 2018, we will have plenty of reporting. Likely including the footage from a Virginia State Police helicopter, the same footage used by the prosecution to change the charges against Fields to first degree murder.

Maybe so. Although November is a hell of a long wait. Again, like the Los Angeles shooting, it is odd when they go so silent. Still one thing we can be sure of - no one will be able to link it to Trump. Although I assume CNN has half their new bureau working the details as we speak.

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'So you have three that were invaded.'

I really needed to post the entire list, it seems.

'But, boy, did the GOP escape a disaster with Rubio.'

Wait, aren't the people writing what Sen. Rubio wrote anti-fa hard leftists defending thugs, not members of the GOP?

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But not all the marchers were Nazis. Not all of them were chanting anything. Some people were just upset about a statue.

So back during the Iraq war, did you hold the same position about anti-war activists linking arms with members of the socialist workers party?

Personally, the presence of actual communists in the anti-war movement was one reason I would NOT participate in it. You are judged by the company you keep, and some people shouldn't be welcome in polite society. Nazis and communists both included.

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Which side are you arguing? Whoever called anti Iraq war rallies commie rallies? There were commies at the “I have a dream” speech.

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Has there been a marchnor protest in the past century in the us where there wasn’t representation from some branch of international communism?

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I don't know. First of all it is NPR so biased. But even so they found that 52% of people found his statement was not strong enough.

That looks pretty middle of the road. Especially as it includes that those that think he ought to have defended the First Amendment more as well as those that think he ought to have condemned those that exercise it more.

Are you seriously going to go "fake news" on this? You can look at the survey instrument at the link as well as a detailed breakdown of respondents. Historically, Marist is actually a bit biased toward Republicans and NPR is almost exactly spot on. Unlike polls that have true and consistent biases (Rasmussen toward R's and YouGov toward D's). Retrospective analysis. https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/pollster-ratings/

And I don't know how you can interpret 27% saying his response was strong enough vs an absolute majority of respondents saying it was not strong enough "middle of the road."

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I happen to think the same... NPR is very partial, IMHO.

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It's fine to think that in general--though I disagree. However, it's demonstrated to not be partial in polling.

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Sure. Look at the question they asked - and look how you are spinning it. But it relies on an unspoken assumption - Trump condemned the Nazis. But he did not go far enough for the Democrat party. And, needless to say, NPR. Which kind of kills your spin right there. Condemn it he did.

You only have to look at what the Democrats in that survey had to say to see a polarized response. Trump did not get that from Americans as a whole. He got about 50:50. Assuming those that could not be bothered to have an opinion were not outraged and so did not think he should have done more.

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The problem is, if the coverage of Charlottesville riots had been reasonable, trumps’ encouragement of mutual respect among the reasonable non extremists and disdain of two different extremist groups would have met a completely different response. Content wise it just seems unfair to blame trump for that particular bit of polarization. There are plenty of better examples if you want to blame trump.

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It was not 50/50. The responses are unambiguous from "Americans as a whole."

Maybe you wanted different questions, but this shows his position was not middle of road, as you stated. It wasn't, because a large majority of people with any opinion said he didn't go far enough.

If the question had simply been should have Trump condemned the Nazis, then obviously almost everyone would have agreed with him and you could've said his response aligned with public opinion,

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Well no. People who don't care, are not upset. So they are on Trump's side. It is a fairly even split.

It is certainly not a one sided landslide as the Democrat supporters show. Trump is not to everyone's taste but there is no evidence that he violently divided the country on this issue.

And of course the question does not ask what you want it to ask.

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You're not very good at this, are you? People who have no opinion or unsure are NOT on Trump's side. Most people in this group are unaware of the details of the event (which includes a large share of the country -- people busy working mostly and not following the news). And a small share of them know the details simply have no opinion. If they agreed with Trump they would have said so--that was one of the response options. They declined to choose it.

To sum up, you made a rash, stupid statement about this incident. I pointed you to the data that disproved it and you're mad. That's ok.

Also, did you see this related news today. A guy who participated in the counter-racism protests in Charlottesville is suing because Alex Jones and others published lies putting him at the center of various conspiracy theories staging the Charlottesville attack and other things. Jones' readers have ruined this man's life. His crime? Videoing the maniac racist at the event who ran people over, killing one woman, and putting it on Twitter. http://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/378099-virginia-man-sues-infowars-others-for-fake-news-after

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The public always wants more done. On any issue. It is very very rare to have people say that the status quo is perfect and the government shouldn't do any more.

27% agreeing that Trump did "enough" is definitely middle of the road for a poll like this.

What did people want him to do? Say the Nazis are worse than the Communists? How can you be so confident that the content of neo-Nazi speech is worse than the content of neo-Communists? Trump probably doesn't care at all to even hear what they're saying and just assumes both groups are radical identitarians. Which is actually probably a pretty good approximation!

People are socially conditioned to gag reflex every time they hear "Nazi". But honestly, most rap music is more offensive and unwoke than Richard Spencer.

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Because black people who are angry about cops shooting innocent people in their community is a morally equivalent "extreme" position, similar to racist dolts who are angry that non-white people get to live in America.

Totally the same thing.

To be fair, Michael Brown was not innocent.

There are conflicting reports on that. Supposedly he took a box of swisher sweets. However, alternate reports indicate that he had actually traded the swisher sweets for a bag of marijuana via a pre-existing relationship with the owner. It was a third party which reported the "theft".

In either case, petty theft is not a death penalty offense. And Brown was really kind of just a spark that ignited a situation that had been simmering due to the cops overall mistreatment of the local population (again, using petty fines to raise revenue).

As is generally the case in these situations, the issue is larger than just the one incident. The incident is just a symbol of a larger problem.

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Talking about brown trying to take officer Wilson’s service weapon while he was inside the car and charging toward him when he was eventually shot. Every level of government was desperate to find something that supported the witnesses to quell the mob, but three separate autopsies and all the forensic evidence support Wilson’s story.

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I don’t like using petty fines to raise revenue and if there was genuinely a movement based against that, it would be a good thing. What I don’t like is any ideological movement that is willing to ignore evidence, lie and mislead in the name of some supposed greater good.

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Did any president say there were fine fellows on both sides of such rioting?

This isn't hard, and it is not about whether people are more opposed to Nazi slogan chanting torch light paraders or people who riot and burn buildings. The vast majority of Americans are obviously opposed to both, even if our current President is clearly out of step with the citizens of the U.S. when it comes to his own opinion concerning those chanting 'blood and soil.'

Believe it or not, it is possible to find both those chanting Nazi slogans and those who riot and burn to be contemptible.

Believe it or not, it is possible to find both those chanting Nazi slogans and those who riot and burn to be contemptible.

Which is exactly what Trump did. He condemned both sides. He pointed out that there were well meaning people on both sides too. His approach was nuanced.

So no wonder you cannot follow it.

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'Which is exactly what Trump did.'

Or didn't. Trump's abilities to say something entirely different from previous statements is one of the more entertaining things about him.

'He pointed out that there were well meaning people on both sides too.'

The vast majority of Americans do not believe that anyone chanting Nazi slogans is well meaning. In part because American soldiers, such as their fathers or grandfathers, liberated the death camps that the followers of a genocidal ideology had been running.

You continue to fail to understand basic concepts. Not everyone was chanting Nazi slogans. In fact there is little evidence that many people were. It was a protest over the statue. Not a party rally. Lots of people came - only some of whom were extremists.

And he did. He made a nuanced statement that, as usual, has gone over your head.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time."

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Stop believing everything you read. In a sane world, what Trump said was the most reasonable and statesmanlike thing to say, and this is from a man who is often neither reasonable nor statesmanlike. It is so frustrating that the one of the biggest gripes about the guy is what should have been one of his finest moments.

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You forgot to include the date. That statement was from August 12, when the body count was 1:0 in favor of those supporting a genocidal ideology. Or, if you prefer, not those chanting supporters a genocidal ideology, but instead those defending a memorial to treason against the United States, defending the military leaders of the states who seceded from the U.S. to preserve ownership of slaves.

And his remaks from August 15 included this - “You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists,” Trump said. “The press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

“You also had some very fine people on both sides,” he said.' You are welcome to quibble about that also not including Nazi slogan chanting marchers as you please.

And do note the following hard leftist responses from several people before Trump made his first statement (his wife, who probably has a better awareness of what Nazism means, was the first person with a White House connection to respond to events) - 'The Republican House speaker, Paul Ryan, tweeted: “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.”

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, tweeted: “The hate and bigotry witnessed in #Charlottesville does not reflect American values. I wholeheartedly oppose their actions.”

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and father of the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, issued a strident tweet about white nationalism. “‘White supremacy’ crap is worst kind of racism – it’s EVIL and perversion of God’s truth to ever think our Creator values some above others,” Huckabee said on Twitter.'

As always, Trump says whatever he wishes, without concern about consistency or seeming awareness just how far outside of American norms he is. You are welcome to pick one quote and say it represents the real Trump, but that is a game for mugs. Like Ryan or McConnell, apparently unaware that the hatred and bigotry was on many sides, before it actually turned out that our president could find fine people on both sides, including those espousing the sort of hatred and bigotry that the leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate unreservedly condemned as not reflecting American values and being repugnant.

Apparently, in your world, hard leftists are easily identified by such beliefs. Considering just how highly placed such hard leftists like Ryan and McConnel are in the U.S. government, no wonder you live in a nightmarish world where Nazi slogan chanting marchers are being oppressed by the violence inherent in the system.

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clockwork_prior March 13, 2018 at 8:12 am

You forgot to include the date. That statement was from August 12, when the body count was 1:0 in favor of those supporting a genocidal ideology.

It is irrelevant. And of course anti-fa also support a genocidal ideology. A more genocidal one than the Nazis.

Or, if you prefer, not those chanting supporters a genocidal ideology, but instead those defending a memorial to treason against the United States, defending the military leaders of the states who seceded from the U.S. to preserve ownership of slaves.

Those whacky Democrats. It is amazing - the Democrats' present army of street thugs clash with the Democrats' former army of street thugs over a memorial to the Democrats' actual Army of slaves-owners and yet somehow Trump gets the blame.

And his remaks from August 15 included this – “You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists,” Trump said. “The press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

Indeed. As you are too.

‘The Republican House speaker, Paul Ryan, tweeted: “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.”

The views from anti-fa and the Nazis is, as Ryan said, repugnant. What's your point? Oh, you don't have one. You are just doing your usual cut'n'paste escape from a failed argument. Like a cuttlefish deploying ink.

As always, Trump says whatever he wishes, without concern about consistency or seeming awareness just how far outside of American norms he is.

Where is the evidence he is outside anyone's norms? Where are the polls showing that most voters were appalled by what he said? As someone else has said, he was diplomatic, conciliatory and statesman-like. One of his finer moments.

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'Where is the evidence he is outside anyone’s norms? '

See below for a serious of tweets, remarkably hard to misunderstand even by those most sympathetic to Trump's idea of fine people on both sides position. Though since you might consider Marco Rubio another member of the hard left, it probably will not make much of an impression on you

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@clockwork:
You are actually being way to nice to these guys. You should not even concede that there's an equivalence between the two groups, because the underlying moral basis of their positions is not equivalent. One side is demanding equal treatment under the law, and the other is demanding just the opposite. The rioting is beside the point. Tearing down statues is beside the point. One group stands for a morally defensible underlying cause, and the other does not.

Antifa is a Maoist organization that stands for totalitarian communism. Try to learn something in between being offended and signalling your virtue and being a racist.

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It's an intuitive argument and there might be something to it but the evidence presented in the paper is likely spurious because both polarization and response rates are trending. My co-author Jon Mellon and I re-examined Cavari and Freedman's data and find that when you control for time to account for the trending nature of the data there is no longer a statistical relationship between response rate and polarization. We also demonstrate the likelihood that the result is spurious by showing you get almost identical results when you replace response rate with another trending variable that obviously has no connection with polarization - per capita milk consumption. Paper here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3138465

Can you elaborate? Or provide an ungated link? I'm unable to access the paper via the link you provided and would like to read it. In the meantime...

It sounds like you're making an argument analogous to the classic example of positive correlation between murder rates and ice cream consumption. In the murder/ice cream example, there is a positive correlation between the two variables because both are correlated with temperature. All of these have similar trends over a fixed time period. People are out and about more in warmer times, so they interact more, so there's more murder, or so went the argument in my Econ 101 course 15 years ago. (The correlation between temperature and ice cream consumption should be obvious.) So you have a spurious correlation due to an ignored third variable, all three of which are correlated temporally.

In the post you mentioned above, however, you don't posit what the ignored variable is. You merely show that three things that show trends over the same time period are correlated with each other. While this does make the arguments in the paper you're responding to less convincing, you go to far in stating that the result is spurious. Returning to the above example, milk consumption could be the ice cream and murder rate the response rate, while there truly is a causal relationship between response rate and polarization. (Since there's no clear relationship between polarization and milk consumption as far as I can tell, the analogy is imperfect.)

If we discarded all correlations between variables where we have a theoretically justified mechanism for the correlation, we'd get nowhere fast. Finding a third variables that correlated with the other two doesn't prove a claim spurious. It just buys you an argument about which theoretical mechanism is more palatable or a search for a better data set. From your abstract and summary here, I don't find your argument very persuasive.

As I said above, I would like to read the full paper if you have an ungated version. There may be more convincing arguments therein.

I can't speak to the above, but my immediate thought when reading the original post is that it's exactly what you'd expect, because the only people who DO consistently vote and argue about politics are becoming more polarized. Response rates would go down for the increasing majority who just don't want to get caught up in all that. So perhaps increasing polarization in a subset of the population simply reduces the number of people in the middle who are willing to even respond to a survey about politics.

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You should be able to download the paper from the above link - SSRN is an open access depository - but sometimes it gets funny when lots of people go to the same paper in a short space of time and tries to make you sign in. Try this link instead: https://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=412117110095127118121078070097001011022024001018005001005071093094009021071073088025052011123123001038027090096118102095119079041023045020021087065072081067004088086031011094069124008125115000028068023118019124095095120107100118076086019010006127090088&EXT=pdf

The ice-cream/murder is basically the same point we're making but you don't actually need to know that temperature is the omitted variable to know that the relationship is spurious - you can adjust for the seasonality of both variables and find that the correlation between them is due to that seasonality without necessarily knowing why both are seasonal.

Likewise we don't need to know what the omitted variables are between milk consumption, polarization, and time to know that is clearly spurious - you just control for the fact that both are trending. The problem of spurious correlations due to time trends is very well known in statistics - see here for example https://www.bateswhite.com/media/publication/99_Deng,%20ABA%20newsletter%202015.pdf. You can have fun exploring clearly spurious relationships that are due to trending variables here http://tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations.

Controlling for the trend doesn't get rid of any correlation that isn't due to the trend, so if there was a relationship between response rate and polarization that wasn't just an artifact of the time correlation you would still expect to see it in a regression model controlling for the time trend, and we don't.

The milk consumption example may seem a bit flippant but the point is very serious - the statistical evidence for a relationship between milk consumption is actually stronger than the statistical relationship between response rate and polarization. That statistical evidence is obviously misleading but it looks exactly like the relationship between response rate and polarization. How can we know that one is spurious but the other isn't? Without a properly identified model, we can't. Our point is not that there is no relationship between response rate and polarization, and we are not saying we have a properly identified model that shows no relationship. Our point is that this analysis claims to have evidence of that relationship but when examined properly does not.

I don't understand this at all. Monotonic correlation with time doesn't seem to imply the presence of an unknown confounding variable. It seems like saying, "I spent 5 seconds slowly turning up the volume knob on my TV, and sure, the sound output increased, but you can't conclude that the volume knob is related to the sound output, because if you control for time, the effect of the volume knob setting disappears." In contrast, the seasonality adjustment makes much more sense to me. Can you explain why non-periodic effects for "time" in a regression necessarily indicate a missing variable?

To stretch your TV example a bit (perhaps too far), imagine two situations in which you can measure time, the position of the volume control, and the volume level perfectly:
1) You increase the volume of your TV at random intervals.
2) You press the volume control but it is broken and your TV is playing a recording of an increasingly loud noise.

Both situations are correlated with time and the position of the volume control but in the first case the time trend is spurious and in the second case the control trend is spurious. A statistical model of TV volume as a function of control position and time would be able to distinguish these two situations because conditional on the other variable there is no correlation between volume and spurious variable.

The only exception to this is the situation in which you adjust the volume control at perfectly regular intervals, in which case control position and time are perfectly correlated and so a model with them both would be impossible to estimate. Perfect correlations don't generally happen in reality so this is rarely a problem for actual trending variables. In any case if you were actually in this situation you wouldn't be able to tell if you were in scenario 1 or 2, in which case you can either take it on faith that your volume control works or come up with a better test.

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"Controlling for the trend doesn’t get rid of any correlation that isn’t due to the trend, so if there was a relationship between response rate and polarization that wasn’t just an artifact of the time correlation you would still expect to see it in a regression model controlling for the time trend."

This is only true if the time trend is the "real" trend. If your data generation process is:
x = f(t)
y = f(x)

(where t is time), then x and y will be time-correlated. If the time correlation with X is particularly strong, you will see the phenomena you describe, where after accounting for the time dependency, x and y have little remaining correlation. But that's not because y and x are independent.

Perhaps a better way to say it is that x|t and y|t can appear independent if x and y are both highly correlated with t, even if there is in fact a direct linear relationship between x and y. If you want an example and have R, see below.

library(tidyverse)
set.seed(20180313)
t <- 0:100
x <- 40 + 2 * t + rnorm(length(t))
y <- .1 * x + rnorm(length(x), sd = .15)
xr % summary
lm(y ~ t + x) %>% summary
lm(y ~ xr) %>% summary

"That statistical evidence is obviously misleading but it looks exactly like the relationship between response rate and polarization. How can we know that one is spurious but the other isn’t?"

This one is simple. You believe the first model because you have a clearly-identified, pre-specified mechanism that you're testing when it comes to response rate and polarization, whereas you have neither of these when you compare milk consumption and response rate. If you're trying to make a "garden of forking paths" argument, you have to engage the process by which the original authors arrived at their model. In this case, nonresponse bias is an obvious phenomena to consider when looking at survey data. In fact, it would be surprising (IMO) if changing response rates over time had no effect on the characteristics of the sample.

"Our point is not that there is no relationship between response rate and polarization, and we are not saying we have a properly identified model that shows no relationship. Our point is that this analysis claims to have evidence of that relationship but when examined properly does not."

I think I actually generally agree with you about this. I only think that you're overstating your case. I don't think its prudent to throw out every analysis just because the data set they're looking at only has a temporally monotonic trend, but I do think its fair to say that drawing any causal inference at all is challenging given the structure of their data.

When I run your code I get a coefficient for x of 0.096 with a p value of 2.66e-09 and a coefficient for t of 0.006 with a p value of 0.827, or in other words, the model closely approximates the data generating process despite the (spurious) correlation with t, which is what I would expect given what I said above. But you seem to be saying that we would wrongly conclude they were independent in this example, which is not what the code shows, so I don't follow.

In any case to address your substantive point about theory. We're not approaching this as a statistical 'gotcha' moment without any grounding in theory. We are survey researchers and think that non-response bias is a very important threat to valid inference in survey research and have published saying exactly that (see here for example https://academic.oup.com/poq/article/81/3/661/3852137). The non-statistical problem with Cavari and Freedman's analysis is that they equate response *rate* with response *bias*. As we discuss in our response paper, there is loads of research that shows that response rate and bias are not the same thing, and that you can have equally unbiased surveys with very different response rates. There is no good evidence that response bias has increased over time even though response rates have fallen.

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First off, sorry for the hideous formatting. It's a minor miracle you took the time to untangle that.

My point with the example (which I'll grant wasn't clear at all) was that it depends on how you do the analysis. If you include both terms, you could get a response that is significant, as in the example above. (Note that this can disappear as the correlation between x and t increases; replace the existing line with x <- 40 + 2 * t + rnorm(length(t), sd = .1) and the significance of x|t disappears.) If you attempt to "detrend" the data and do your regression on the residuals (this was the last example), you find that there's no relationship between y and x.

As for the other part (the "non-statistical problem" as you put it), I believe it can be attributed to some sloppy language on the part of Cavari and Freedman. Although you interpret their paper to be equating changes in response rate to response bias, my reading is that this is their research question. From the paper:

"As the response rate decreased in recent years—and especially when it reached the extremely low levels that exist today—surveys include a larger share of an engaged and partisan public, who are polarized along party lines. Because of this bias, surveys project a more polarized image of the American public than exists in reality."

Here, "bias" specifically refers to the singular question of polarization, and they spend the rest of the paper trying to justify this statement. They're not presupposing nonresponse bias so much as trying to show it. In fact, they seem pretty willing to admit that other measures might be fine even with the low response rates:

"There is no doubt that despite low response rates, a well-done probability sample can allow researchers to generalize about large populations. Yet, survey data may not adequately represent the attitudes of all Americans if the bias in samples is correlated with the topic of interest. This may be the case regarding measures of polarization in contemporary surveys."

To me, this reads as pretty circumspect.

Anyhow, I'll stop here. I'm not an expert on public policy polling, (I even managed to avoid taking Sampling in grad school) so there may be some subtleties that I'm missing. But in my mind at least, showing that there are other covariates that are similarly monotonic over the same timer period is best framed as a, "Well, not necessarily..." type of finding.

PS- I'm still interested in reading the papers you mentioned if there's a way to get at them ungated.

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"Our results also showed that Facebook news use was related to a modest over-time spiral of depolarization. Furthermore, we found that people who use Facebook for news were more likely to view both pro- and counter-attitudinal news in each wave"

Paper: Facebook news and (de)polarization: reinforcing spirals in the 2016 US election. Michael A. Beam, Myiah J. Hutchens & Jay D. Hmielowski. Information, Communication & Society, https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2018.1444783

Abstract: http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2018/03/our-results-also-showed-that-facebook.html

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Americans don't need to observe marches by those advocating genocidal ideologies. All they really need to do is read some history and spend part of their vacation driving around the internment camps known as "Indian reservations".

the internment camps known as “Indian reservations”.

You never stop lying, do you?

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In context, Trump’s comments were about there being fine people on both sides of the debate about tearing down Confederate memorials. Which is true. The press and others have distorted the truth, once again, as a wedge issue.
Plus the press and many who hate Trump chose to ignore the violence on the left while attacking the hate groups on the right.
To me these were events where two groups of people chose to reject civil discourse to create theatre for the cameras. Neither side had clean hands nor did they represent a society that can peacefully resolve differences.
If Trump was a politician who carefully poll tests all his comments he might have said there are people on both sides who are too quick to resort to violence, who reject civil discourse and the rule of law. And there are others who have the right to peacefully demonstrate and express views that I may disagree with or that I might find repulsive. Refusing to acknowledge that some on either side of the debate about tearing down Confederate memorials have the right to be heard. Granting a mob the power to impose their views with force denies us all our right to speak and be heard. Decent people can disagree on the core issue but we should not justify either side reverting to mob violence.

Is this the mob violence you're talking about? Fox News makes no mention of a bunch of "very fine people" on the marchers' side getting hurt.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/08/27/man-arrested-in-beating-deandre-harris-in-charlottesville-police-say.html

Are you that dishonest Jan? You ignore everything I post then make a comment and link that shows what? That some nasty people committed criminal acts were tracked down, some arrested and faced criminal charges. Who in your wildest imagination justified or in any way condoned this attack?

Trump, who I think is one of the worst politicians I have ever seen, at the time said that he condemned the hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.

I do think that Steve Bannon gave the President lousy advice, and failed to give the President a full view of the actual events, but Trump did not ever condone the violence. (And thankfully Bannon has since been fired.) Saying that people on both sides of the debate about the removal of Confederate memorials ( the stated purpose of the protests) were decent people isn't that earth-shattering.

And in the context of violent left-wing violent protests around the country in the previous months, it is hardly surprising that a President would be concerned about the growing violence in extreme elements in the country. In that context here is one of the comments that received so much negative blowback

"We all must be united and condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let's come together as one!" He said, "we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides."[222][223][224] He added, "What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order.

Terry McAuliffe had blood on his hands for the way he handled the matter. But the national press mostly ignored how McAuliffe dealt with the situation (and made it worse) while attacking President Trump for unscripted comments.

Some comments from Wikipedia.

Later in the day, counterprotesters chanted slogans including "Kill All Nazis"[94] and "punch a Nazi in the mouth."[95] The armed leftist group Redneck Revolt[96] posted on their website: "To the fascists and all who stand with them, we'll be seeing you in Virginia."[97] Harvard professor Cornel West, who organized some of the counter-demonstrators, said that a group of "20 of us who were standing, many of them clergy, we would have been crushed like cockroaches if it were not for the anarchists and the anti-fascists who approached, over 300, 350 anti-fascists." West stated, "The neofascists had their own ammunition. And this is very important to keep in mind, because the police, for the most part, pulled back."[93]

Virginia allows the open carrying of firearms under state law;[98] many demonstrators were armed, including with semi-automatic weapons.[99][98][100] This presented major challenges for police at the scene.[99][98] Many of the protesters and counterprotesters carried shields, sticks, and clubs,[100][101][102] as well as body armor and helmets.[80]

Beginning in the morning, ahead of the rally's official noon start time,[110] "protesters and counterprotesters faced off, kicking, punching, hurling water bottles at and deploying chemical sprays against one another."[111][112] An estimated 500 protesters and more than a thousand counterprotesters were on the site.[111][80] The Associated Press reported that "people threw punches, screamed, set off smoke bombs, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays"; some engaged in combat while "others darted around, trying to avoid the chaos."[80]

In the aftermath of the rally and the car ramming, some criticized the police handling of the rally. Claire Gastañaga, executive director of the Virginia ACLU, wrote that "The situation that occurred was preventable" and the ACLU's lawsuit, which resulted in a federal court granting an injunction allowing the rally to go forward at Emancipation Park, "did not cause it."[156] Gastañaga wrote that: "The lack of any physical separation of the protesters and counterprotesters on the street was contributing to the potential of violence. [Police] did not respond. In fact, law enforcement was standing passively by, waiting for violence to take place, so that they would have grounds to declare an emergency, declare an 'unlawful assembly' and clear the area."[156]

The Heapy report
Law enforcement failed to break up fights or take an active role in preventing fights and were instructed not to intervene except in cases of "extreme violence." This decision represented "a tremendous tactical failure that has real and lasting consequences."[160][161] Police supervisors "devised a poorly conceived plan that under-equipped and misaligned hundreds of officers. Execution of that plan elevated officer safety over public safety."[162]
Charlottesville police and Virginia State Police failed to operate under a unified command and did not even use the same radio channel.[160]
University of Virginia officials were aware of plans for a torchlit rally by white nationalists but "took no action to enforce separation between groups or otherwise prevent violence."[163]

Trump supported the attack through his silence. Then he grudgingly offered some half-hearted bullshit condemnation in which he said there were very fine people among the racists. It's only going to get worse. Stay tuned.

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False Jan. Clearly without a doubt false.

At 11:52 AM Governor McAuliffe declares a state of emergency.

At 1:19 AM that day Trump tweeted "We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!

about 1:40 car plows into crowd.

at 3:30 Trump adresses nation "We must love each other, respect each other and cherish our history and our future together."

"Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas did tell reporters Monday that many of the weekend confrontations were "mutually engaged attacks" fueled by "mutually combative individuals."" This from officials at the riot at the time of the riot.

At 3:30 this is what Trump said without the distortions of the fake news. NBC and CNN reporting on th eissue is so distoterted that it has little connection to reality.

"But we're closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, this has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society. And no child should ever be afraid to go outside and play or be with their parents and have a good time.

I just got off the phone with the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, and we agree that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now. We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and true affection-- really, I say this so strongly, true affection for each other. Our country is doing very well in so many ways. We have record -- just absolute record employment. We have unemployment the lowest it's been in almost 17 years. We have companies pouring into our country, Foxconn and car companies and so many others. They're coming back to our country. We're renegotiating trade deals to make them great for our country and great for the American worker.

We have so many incredible things happening in our country, so when I watch Charlottesville, to me it's very, very sad. I want to salute the great work of the state and local police in Virginia. Incredible people. Law enforcement, incredible people. And also the National Guard. They've really been working smart and working hard. They've been doing a terrific job. Federal authorities are also providing tremendous support to the governor. He thanked me for that. And we are here to provide whatever other assistance is needed. We are ready, willing and able. Above all else, we must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country. We love our god.

We love our flag. We're proud of our country. We're proud of who we are, so we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we're doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen. My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other."
https://www.vox.com/2017/8/12/16138906/president-trump-remarks-condemning-violence-on-many-sides-charlottesville-rally

Jan, and many others have no idea what President Trump actually said. Where is the half hearted bullshit? Where is the silence? His biggest mistake was praising the officials and on scene.

On the following Tuesday Trump gave remarks on infrastructure and was asked about the riots.

:Those people -- all of those people -- excuse me. I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee. So -- excuse me. And you take a look at some of the groups and you see -- and you'd know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you're not, but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you all -- you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop? But they were there to protest -- excuse me. You take a look, the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. Infrastructure question, go ahead."

QUESTION: Mr. President, are you putting what you're calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?
TRUMP: I'm not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I'm saying is this. You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch. But there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the left. You've just called them the left -- that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that's the way it is.

QUESTION: (inaudible) started this (inaudible) Charlottesville. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. (inaudible) themselves (inaudible) and you have some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me, excuse me -- I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.
(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him?
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: OK. Good. Are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue? So you know what? It's fine. You're changing history. You're changing culture. And you had people, and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You've got -- you had a lot of bad -- you had a lot of bad people in the other group…

QUESTION: ... treated unfairly (inaudible) you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly? (inaudible) understand what you're saying.
TRUMP: No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I'm sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people -- neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest, because you know -- I don't know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn't have a permit. So, I only tell you this, there are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country (sic). Does anybody have a final -- doesn't anybody have a -- you have an infrastructure…

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-charlottesville-transcript-20170815-story.html

Was Trump accurate? Here are reports of what happened

"The streets were not barricaded. Violent antifa [anti-fascists] were not penned in their own area as per our agreement with the Charlottesville Police Department, but were roaming the streets and blocking the entrance to Lee Park. They immediately launched an attack on our group with mace, pepper spray, bricks, sticks and foul liquids. The police stood idly by on the sidelines while a brawl was allowed to ensue. We had to fight our way into Lee Park and dozens of our people were injured by mace and pepper spray as we marched through the gauntlet."

Washington Post reporter Joe Heim: "Counter-protesters fought back, also swinging sticks, punching and spraying chemicals. Others threw balloons filled with paint or ink at the white nationalists. Everywhere, it seemed violence was exploding. The police did not move to break up the fights."

Most dangerously, law enforcement experts say, officers initially deployed without adequate protective gear to break up fighting and were not well positioned to keep the peace. As fights erupted, police stayed back. They stood not between the two opposing groups but behind them and off to the sides. And when they cleared the park where rallygoers had gathered near a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, police flushed many of them directly onto the same street where counterprotesters were gathered, according to witnesses and video.

The area became a flashpoint, and video that surfaced Friday appears to show a white nationalist fire a handgun after leaving the park. By the end of the day, two police officers were killed in a helicopter crash.

The police tactics on the ground and approach mystified some law enforcement veterans and experts, including former Charlottesville police chief Timothy J. Longo, now a lecturer at the University of Virginia who teaches about the use of force by police.

“How do you allow two completely divergent and armed groups to come in contact with one another, knowing full well for weeks in advance that there were warnings of violence?” Longo asked. “In the current climate, this has all the earmarks of something that will happen again, and certainly every city should be looking at what happened to learn a lesson.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/how-charlottesville-lost-control-amid-deadly-protest/2017/08/26/288ffd4a-88f7-11e7-a94f-3139abce39f5_story.html?utm_term=.baebd7269e05

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I suspect that the difference is between polarization and tribalism: when issues are presented as abstract concepts, there's not that much polarization, but when issues are presented as two sides to the partisan (tribal) divide, there is. I would even make the case that on issues such as abortion the differences are more the result of tribalism than polarization. Thus, those opposed to abortion may state that it's murder, but would overlook the fact that the leader of their tribe has paid for more than one. Did Germans in the 1930s become hyper-polarized (and mass murderers!) or did they simply follow their tribe? Good people are capable of horrible things. Indeed, the emphasis on polarization may well be a catalyst for horrible things. I will mention Singapore (as Cowen often does), which emphasizes social harmony even though Singapore is racially and religiously diverse. In the past, Americans practiced social harmony through shared experiences, in the neighborhoods they shared, in the churches they attended, in public schools where they were educated, in charitable causes they supported. Today, Americans are segregated, not only by race but by education, wealth, religion, and most importantly by geography. We are the tribe to which we belong.

The two largest "tribes' in the US aren't identified by their political ideologies even though they seem to agree with their contemporaries. The largest tribe is composed of public employees. The second largest tribe, and the most dedicated, is law enforcement. A third significant tribe is the career active duty military and its retirees. Self-identified Democrats and Republicans don't constitute tribes.

http://nailheadtom.blogspot.com/2017/07/two-photographs.html

So the largest three tribes are all public employees or former public employees? That's a depressing thought.

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When were we not polarized?

Let's make a deal. You smart kids don't tell me what I can do and what I can keep; and we're cool.

A deal means you offer us something of equivalent value in return. You offer nothing.

Conclusively demonstrate that you utilize no public resources or infrastructure and that your actions and property have no impact or effect on anyone else, and we'll talk.

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The MR Comments section continues to be exactly as polarized as we think!

It's tough not to be polarized when you skin color makes you a racist, your gender makes you a sexist, your location of birth makes you a xenophobe, redneck, ignoramus, and your opinion on whether we should remove statues makes you a Nazi. The full racist, sexist, xenophobic, scapegoating onslaught of the Democrat party is frightening.

...and, once again, the pot calls the kettle black.

Quit whining, snowflake.

Quit whining, snowflake.

Then I'll expect to hear no more about 'white privilege', 'xenophobia', 'raaaacism', &c. Thanks for your inspiration.

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One person can't be polarized- it takes two. For instance, me and you.

Yes I know that you are a racist, sexist, xenophobic Christianophobe. You are a mainstream progressive, consumed by hate.

And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!

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A perfect example of selection bias. We're the ones who've chosen to argue online

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But the literature on increasing polarization doesn't simply rely on opinion polls. DW-NOMINATE and similar methods have found increasing polarization in Congress. As Chris Posser points out above, response rates and polarization can correlate as well; people put off by increasing polarization drop out. They might drop out of elections as well as polls.

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The people who had scheduled the demonstration in Charlottsville were not Nazis and didn't shout Nazi slogans. That part of the event appeared staged and had nothing to do with the rally organizers. The point of the rally was to oppose the removal of historic statues. You may agree or disagree with this rewriting of history that removing statues represents but neither position makes you a Nazi or a bad person.

The Antifa, ironically, is fascist and are funded and supported by communist groups. Their intent is to create havoc, divide the country and support the far left communists agenda.

You may not like the rally organizers but it seems strange to align yourself with the communist funded fascists and declaring this loudly and proudly. But it's your choice.

"You may agree or disagree with this rewriting of history that removing statues represents but neither position makes you a Nazi or a bad person."

You mean, rewriting the History that says Confederate leaders rebelled against America and tried to save Slavery? This history, you mean? Why neonazis and White supremacists keep pretending to be another thing?

The debate over whether to tear down Confederate memorials isn't an attempt to erase the history of the Civil War.

Some people use religious symbols to justify horrific acts. Does that give me the right to go to a church or mosque to tear down those symbols?

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Stay on the subject. You can disagree that the statues should or shouldn't be torn down without being a racist/nazi or otherwise a bad person. Many of those opposed to tearing down these statues have relatives who fought in the civil war and feel connected with that history. They are probably less racist then yourself but by birth they have a connection that they respect and they see it being disrespected for totally fake reasons.

On the other hand, the other side in this conflict are themselves fascists by their actions and racists by their own words. So who is right and who is wrong?

One undeniable fact is that the left in this argument is backed by and funded by communist organizations who in turn receive funding and direction directly from Russia. This also happened with the anti-war demonstrations during the Vietnam war. Just more of the communist inflitration into our politics to create tyranny.

Russia? That's all #fakenews, Russia isn't trying to mess with us. All a leftist bag of lies to slander Trump and overturn a legitimate election in 2016.

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Re: Many of those opposed to tearing down these statues have relatives who fought in the civil war and feel connected with that history.

Those "relatives" have been dead for an exceedingly long time. And just because someone is related to you ancestrally doesn't mean you have to defend their life's choices in knee jerk fashion. I had a great grandfather who was a drunk and a wife beater (he died a very long time before I was born). I sure the heck am not going to join a rally in support of boozehound abusers to honor him!

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Jerry Taylor tweeted a long nuts and bolts thread on current political beliefs a couple hours ago:

https://twitter.com/jerry_jtaylor/status/973544960904650752

No idea how the 2000 people were found .. but I find the whole thing worrying. It's just too detached from day to day problems.

It is almost as if (and I think we see that here) some don't want to believe there are unusual day to day problems, because that would upset a deeply ingrained SOP. It is much easier for them to treat problems as insubstantial, partisan and same as always.

Wow. Tillerson learned he was fired from the tweet.

Call that your newly updated, pretended, normal, and call out those *noticing* this daily decline of standards and expectations as the problem.

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"Tillerson: Russia obviously poisoned the guy.

Trump: You're fired.

Press: You fired him for saying that?

Trump: No, I fired him on Friday.

Tillerson aide: He wasn't fired on Friday, it came as a complete surprise.

Trump: You're fired too."

https://twitter.com/prchovanec/status/973595067406483456

Apparently he was not fired but asked to resign on Friday. I know that dishonesty is your trade but c'mon.

You are behind on the news. As that clip shows, the State Department guy told the truth about that, and then he was fired.

https://twitter.com/ConnieSchultz/status/973574707164467200?s=19

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And there it is

https://twitter.com/NBCPolitics/status/973595043360632832?s=19

If people weren't so polarized they wouldn't care so much about stuff like did Rex Tillerson know he was fired or not.

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Preposterous.

I feel like I should read you the riot act: You have forgotten what Constitutional government is supposed to be. You have forgotten the role of our Executive Branch. You have forgotten how an administration is supposed to work. You have forgotten what the Cabinet is supposed to be. You have forgotten how a Whitehouse is supposed to oversee all those things, with the President as chief executive.

You accept an angry old man, a random Fox viewer, who tweets what he feels, as a replacement for all those things.

It isn't that Tillerson was fired, it is that yet again no one anywhere else in this "administration" knows what is going to happen until the tweet hits the fan.

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The WaPo sees it similarly:

"Clearly, Trump does not want a secretary of state, or any Cabinet colleague, who ignores his tweets and gets on with the job. He wants someone who will respond to his constantly changing whims, who will cater to his moods. If he decides one week to insult the leader of North Korea, he doesn’t want to hear any objections. If he decides the next week that he wants to fly to Pyongyang, then he doesn’t want to hear any criticism of that either. He lives in a fantasy world of his own making, a nonstop television show in which he is the only star; he doesn’t want people who keep telling him that the real world looks somewhat different or that extravagant gestures might have severe consequences."

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Trump is sitting in my head, drinking my liquor, eating my snacks, watching my TV and I'm in the kitchen cooking his supper. It's not at all fair.

That would be a sensible thing to say, if Trump were still doing television shows I didn't watch.

But it's kind of dumb as ..

Game Theory Scowls at Trump-North Korea Talks

Tyler's concerns look that much greater with the new context.

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So chanting “hands up, don’t shoot” when Michael Brown never said that, causing a riot in your city that burned down two dozen buildings, is better?

The rioting wouldn't have happened if the cops in Fergusen weren't assholes who were harassing the population with frivilous traffic tickets in order to raise revenue.

But go ahead and imagine that the complaints of black people about their treatment by law enforcement is morally equivalent to the complaints of racist douche bags about having to live near and look at Jews, blacks, and Hispanics.

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Great: America itself is not nearly as polarized as our media elites might prefer us to think, instead, our elites themselves are deeply polarized and continue to try to steer public discourse in ways suitable to whatever ideological or economic or political motivation drives our divided, polarized elites.

I do enjoy the spectacle of cults of celebrity viciously attacking each other in public, but I wonder whether our academic elites themselves are plugged securely into whatever is going on these days.

How are complete apoliticization and wholesale political disengagement among both elites and "ordinary Americans" faring of late? Is political disengagement among all classes and cohorts becoming more widespread? Are Americans showing signs of deferring more, or less, to the "experts" of our befuddled elite classes?

I worry that the press has become polarized to the point they are dishonest. Not to mention that honest debate in politics has been replaced with the desire to find wedge issues that will drive fear or anger to electoral success.

I worry that the press has become polarized to the point they are dishonest.

Dan Rather's career began in the 1950s.

honest debate in politics has been replaced

'Honest' 'debate'? You mean like the fare offered on PBS NewsHour?

with the desire to find wedge issues that will drive fear or anger to electoral success.

Black Lives Matter is humbug. And it's someone's fault to boot.

Ok great analysis, excellent points.
Good use of negative space
No idea what it means but good work

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instead, our elites themselves are deeply polarized

They're hardly polarized at all, and differ primarily in the degree to which they take an interest in various social offenses. Our elites are divided between those pushing destructive schemes and those who cave into them. You have some resistance among elected officials, but not in any other professional establishment.

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It's much more that most people want contradictory things. Strong social security, more government assistance with health care, a strong military, lots of social programs, a big infrastructure bill, and lower taxes. Those are all popular, and also impossible to provide every single one.

Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.

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To me Democrats and republicans seem very similar it is me who is on the other pole.

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Even if 99% of Russians and Americans are not polarized, if the 1% who run the govt and military are more polarized, we get a war.

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