Deepening polarization among Democrats and Republicans in the United States represents a major challenge to American political and social life. Left unaddressed, it will further weaken the United States domestically and around the world. Existing measures of polarization, such as polls and voting patterns, don’t accurately capture the underlying psychological mechanisms involved. This prevents us from accurately diagnosing harmful polarization, understanding what is making it worse, and developing effective solutions to it.
Beyond Conflict is working to develop and deploy a nation-wide polarization index, which will consist of national, regional and local surveys to identify specific areas and dimensions of polarization, as well as a “heat map” of the country to guide targeted interventions and areas of concern. When it’s fully built, the index will be used as a diagnostic tool and source of reference for organizations (e.g. journalists, politicians, civic organizations, advocacy groups, religious and other local and national organizations) looking to determine if they are increasing or decreasing polarization.
After this research is completed, the polarization index and field-testing toolkit will be available online to support anti-polarization initiatives and programming.