IVN News

Us vs Them: When Politics is Treated Like a Football Game, No One Wins

Paid Advertisement

A collaborative effort between Patrick Miller of the University of Kansas and Pamela Johnston Conover of the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers new insight into the growing phenomenon behind political polarization in the United States. The study, titled Red and Blue States of Mind: Partisan Hostility and Voting in the United States, was published in Political Research Quarterly on March 30.

 

When Only Partisan Voters Vote, Only Partisan Candidates Are Elected

 

The authors argue that the voters who are most likely to participate in elections are those who hold a very strong partisan identity. As a result, elections become less about substance, and more reminiscent of a sports game, where the goal is to win at any cost. The University of Kansas news service summed up the study, saying:

“They found that many average voters with strong party commitments — both Democrats and Republicans — care more about their parties simply winning the election than they do either ideology or issues. Unlike previous research, the study found that loyalty to the party itself was the source of partisan rivalry and incivility, instead of a fundamental disagreement over issues.”

The trend toward greater polarization within the American electorate has been happening for years, but the contributing factors are numerous and complex

A study by Pew Research shows polarization has steadily increased since 2002. Miller and Conover’s study examined a few possible causes, one of which was the tendency for partisans to consume only media content that reinforces their own worldview.

In a video, Miller explained that these tendencies are having an impact on Congress itself by stifling compromise and breeding a political environment that lacks civility.

“We’re not thinking about politics in the way that most Founders wanted, which is to think about issues, be open to compromise and not be attached to parties,” said Miller. “We’re looking at politics through a simplistic partisan view in which we think our side is good and their side is bad.”

Among other things, the study found:

  • 41 percent of partisans agreed that simply winning elections is more important to them than policy or ideological goals;
  • 35 percent agreed that policy is a more important motivator for them to participate in politics;
  • Only 24 percent valued both equally or expressed no opinion; and
  • 38 percent of partisans agreed that their party should use any tactics necessary to “win elections and issue debates.”

Read the original report by Kansas University’s News service here.

Photo Credit: Cienpies Design / Shutterstock.com

Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


Learn More About IVN

294 comments
Lee Wheelock Butz
Lee Wheelock Butz

Not fair! When one team just walks off the field and the choice of who wins comes down to your crazy armchair quarterback uncle or a seasoned coach of a team you're not really a fan of, policy kind of has to take a back seat to preservation of the integrity of the sport. If picking the latter makes me appear 'partisan', so be it.

William Green
William Green

That's why the Dumocrat symbol is the jackass? Very appropriate!

Ginny Riker
Ginny Riker

They have untrained minds. They grab the first thing that looks like "a win" for them and their team... even if that win brings destructive forces into their lives and their world. There are people in very high places whose minds are totally untrained.

Frank Black
Frank Black

bull is the man???from two and a half men still winning I think not AIDS what is next he is wired and is slipping away from "REALITY"!!!

Mary Schlee Lacey
Mary Schlee Lacey

I think the first thing we should do is can the electoral college! Every state is a red state or blue state. How can an independent win with this outdated piece of garbage?

Jim Paulson
Jim Paulson

Pick intelligence and integrity over party lines, for gosh sake look at what we now have in Washington.

James D. Frazier
James D. Frazier

That's why they are called "partisans"! And that's why the rest of lose. It is supposed to be about finding the middle ground & doing what's best for the country as a whole, not just winning and losing.

Jayse Wyatt
Jayse Wyatt

Lenny if you click the link it will explain.

Lenny Bune
Lenny Bune

Nobody is blocking the Libertarian party. They are on every ballot. It is the brainwashing of the population. Most voters only want to vote for a winner. It's programming. Not by electromagnetic waves or fluoride in the water. Red or Blue is going to win, therefore we must chooses sides. Nobody wants to admit our simplistic animal tendencies have created this. We must blame everything else before we blame ourselves. I take responsibility and vote Libertarian.

Sheila Boswell
Sheila Boswell

I'm an independent and have been for 10 years now. I don't care who it is but I'll vote for any candidate that is NOT a career politician and has not been tainted by the "beltway".

Nathan Greenwood
Nathan Greenwood

That's also how the parties play to win. The winners are always the ones that follow polling data and twist their speeches to appeal to the largest polling majority. At the end of the day, you don't know what (or who) you're actually getting. The candidates just do/say whatever necessary to win.

Al Gi Carrillo
Al Gi Carrillo

As far as weapons no matter what -evil will always find a way to get them and do their deeds !

Al Gi Carrillo
Al Gi Carrillo

When someone is mentally ill and fundamentally religious ( and can't discern between good and evil) -they will stop at no cost to hurt people -specially those who disagreed with their ' twisted thoughts' -it's sad ! -

Leah Panken
Leah Panken

I vote. But I don't like party politics. Like this nut case who shot up the planned parenthood is being politicized. It's not republicans fault or democrats fault. He had no criminal background and was able to obtain the weapon. Easy access to guns is part of the problem but certainly no leader from either political party is responsible.

Roger Chan
Roger Chan

seriously! and voters who buy in to party politics are as much to blame if not more than the politicians they back and support who practice divisive politics. this divisiveness MUST STOP!

Sharla Shore
Sharla Shore

it's all for show anyway, behind the scenes they are mostly on the same side , FOR THEMSLEVES AND THEIR FRIENDS.

Elaine Oksner
Elaine Oksner

That's because so many people have stopped thinking for themselves.

Jared Hogan
Jared Hogan

Read a study yesterday where 46% of respondents voted subjects exuding boisterous leadership qualities for promotion, opposed to those with skill competency.

Al Gi Carrillo
Al Gi Carrillo

But if we are tired and don't vote we will get more or worse than what we have -that's the worse of all politics combined .

Al Gi Carrillo
Al Gi Carrillo

And unfortunately with independents in the middle -we will keep more of the same -we won't make a difference !

Anna Bishop
Anna Bishop

Which is why we independents are growing. We're already the deciding votes. Just watch what happens in November. No one can gauge what were going to do for sure until then. But it won't be trump. That I promise you.

Tracy Patton
Tracy Patton

My main complaint about a 2 party system. It's severely flawed. Politicians are inclined to stay within pre-determined party lines versus their own personal ideologies, and it leads to "talking heads" versus true leaders.

Joseph Matovich
Joseph Matovich

Politics in America is like a high school football game. and the one's losing are the voters who believe the professional politician. I hope we TRUMP all of them.

Peter van Oosten
Peter van Oosten

The ideal of give and take is now obsolete, according to some thinkers. Its all or nothing. The sad thing is that that is nothing new, it just reflects the more base instincts of humanity.

Vinny Flannery
Vinny Flannery

I've heard to many times, people not agreeing with what a nominee believes but votes for them anyways just because of the party the are part of. Plain stupid.

Robert Odell
Robert Odell

This didn't necessitate a pew study.This has been quite obvious, to any intelligent political observer for man years.

Preston Biggs
Preston Biggs

The purpose of having opposing teams is to win. Politicians are there for themselves. Once elected, they do whatever lines their pockets for the next election.

Alan Jackson Jr
Alan Jackson Jr

So true! Politics has been reduced to a sports rivalry

Jacob Hansel
Jacob Hansel

The whole purpose of a political party is to organize and win election campaigns. It's been that way since the dawn of parties. When the party expresses more power over policy than the person in office, now we have a problem.

AlanHerbertz
AlanHerbertz

Looks like 38% of partisans need to be removed from the process.

Erik Nielsen
Erik Nielsen

Tribalism by any other name.....is still tribalism.

Jim Smith
Jim Smith

Monopoly, duopoly, oligopoly doesn't matter. If politics is controlled by the few the many suffer.

Hugh Mcgillivray
Hugh Mcgillivray

Only its about more than bragging rights! These politicians use their position to influence power and promote agendas that are not consistent and beneficial to our country and people.

Cynthia Plumstead Hollenbeck
Cynthia Plumstead Hollenbeck

I agree that on TV, it is treated as a game, but I disagree that VOTERS don't care about issues. That is what has clarified the difference between the 2 parties & why all the Dems I hang with work hard to win elections.

Connie Atkinson
Connie Atkinson

It's hilarious how much voters, themselves, perpetuate the game but throwing punches at each other too and buying into the bs. We are a strange lot, us humans.

Bill Huggins
Bill Huggins

Two sides work great if you're flipping a coin. We can do better. Join us in the Green Party...

Brian D. Callahan
Brian D. Callahan

Actually, it is more like a court room where the slickest lawyers win the case, even when they know justice is not being served.

Wm Meredith
Wm Meredith

Political Independents Seeking Solutions to Entrenched Dogmatism (PISSED)