How Divided is America?
America seems more divided now than at any time in recent memory, with a new poll showing that nearly three-quarters of both Republicans and Democrats consider the other party to be “generally bullies who want to impose their political beliefs on those who disagree.”
But are the divisions in our nation really the worst they’ve been in decades?
The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy recently launched the Vanderbilt Unity Index (VUI) to answer that very question. The VUI attempts to quantify how politically unified the nation has been since 1981, on a scale of 1-100, using a variety of polling data.
Over the past four decades, researchers believe national unity peaked in 1991 during the First Gulf War. Since then, there has been a steady decline in unity as politics became more nationalized.
Concernedly, national unity has in fact hit new lows over the past five years, with the three lowest-ever unity scores coming between 2017 and 2020.
But unity might not be a lost cause. Since 2021, the unity index has begun to rebound slightly.
Divisions in our country do still run deep, but millions of Americans want us to stop looking towards what drives us apart, and instead focus on the common ground we continue to share.