The Exhausted Majority needs a break

Sabrina Tavernise reports:

As the country catches its breath after one of the most acrimonious midterm elections in years, it would be easy to conclude that all of America is hopelessly divided — a land where two angry tribes are at each other’s throats and everybody thinks about politics all the time.

But the reality is far less extreme.

A deep new study of the American electorate, “Hidden Tribes,” concludes that two out of three Americans are far more practical than that narrative suggests. Most do not see their lives through a political lens, and when they have political views the views are far less rigid than those of the highly politically engaged, ideologically orthodox tribes.

The study, an effort to understand the forces that drive political polarization, surveyed a representative group of 8,000 Americans. The nonpartisan organization that did it, More in Common, paints a picture of a society that is far more disengaged — and despairing over divisions — than it is divided. At its heart is a vast and often overlooked political middle that feels forgotten in the vitriol, as if the country has gone on without it. It calls that group the Exhausted Majority, a group that represented two-thirds of the survey.

“It feels very lonely out here,” said Jamie McDaniel, a 36-year-old home health care worker in Topeka, Kan., one of several people in the study who was interviewed for this article. “Everybody is so right or left, and you’re just kind of standing there in the middle saying, “What happened?’”

For Ms. McDaniel, who works full time and is raising a young daughter, politics is not a hobby but an obligation to be endured — more dental appointment than ballgame. She does not know her friends’ political persuasions, nor they hers, because it is not part of how they see themselves. Ms. McDaniel voted on Nov. 6, mostly for Democrats, in a church. But in an interview three days later, she said she had not checked to see who won. [Continue reading…]

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