How much are Republicans and Democrats polarized really?

On the topic of income redistribution, if you just ask them how much should happen, on a scale of 1 to 7:

Perhaps the most striking evidence of polarization is that in the 1–7 scale, the modal response among Republicans is 1, and the modal response among Democrats is 7.

If you look at their actual behavior, Republicans for instance are only slightly more likely to contest an increase in their tax property assessments.  Or this:

One question in the online survey…asks about property taxes instead of federal taxes: “Do you consider the amount of property taxes you pay to be too low, about right, or too high?”…the share of Democrats responding that property taxes are too high (36.9 percent) is not much lower than the corresponding share of Republicans (42.9 percent).

Or if you ask people if they should pay lower property taxes, the difference is real but modest:

…the desired tax reduction is 28.46 percent for Republicans versus 23.42 percent for Democrats.

Or if you ask them how property taxes should be distributed across different income classes:

Democrats want to assign 25.92 percent of property taxes to the poorer household, and Republicans want to assign 25.71 percent to the poorer household…

The Democrats do favor somewhat more taxation for the wealthiest class of households.  Yet:

The results indicate that as the difference in home values increases, the modal respondent still desires proportional taxes.

The conclusion:

…Republicans and Democrats may say that they feel differently about income redistribution, but those differences disappear when facing real, high-stakes choices. We posit a different, yet still simple, explanation: partisan differences in preferences for redistribution are exaggerated by some, but not all, survey questions.

That is all from a new (May!) AER piece by Brad Nathan, Ricardo Perez-Truglia, and Alejandro Zentner, titled “Is the Partisan Divide Real? Polarization in Preferences for Redistribution.”  I have long thought that over time, membership in “the right wing” will be predicted more by “hatred of hypocrisy” than by many of the more traditional pro- free market values of times hence.


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