Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 | 2 a.m.
President Joe Biden had barely occupied the Oval Workplace lengthy sufficient to rearrange his desk and hold footage, however voters already held agency opinions about his job efficiency. That’s how polarized People are.
In California, 89% of Democrats authorized and 68% of Republicans disapproved of how he was dealing with his new job. General, counting independents, 65% of doubtless voters on this deep-blue state authorized and 31% disapproved.
Solely 4% had been undecided.
It was simply Biden’s first full day in workplace when the Public Coverage Institute of California started polling. It stopped 10 days later. How might that brief span on the infancy of a presidency presumably present voters sufficient time to type an intellectually trustworthy opinion of his efficiency?
“Folks had already made up their minds due to partisan politics,” PPIC pollster and CEO Mark Baldassare advised me.
Gallup polled nationally throughout the identical interval and reported an “excessive partisan hole.”
“Preliminary evaluations of presidents are extra influenced by People’ celebration identification now than up to now,” it says.
The polling group discovered an 87-point hole between Democratic and Republican views of Biden’s job efficiency — 98% of Democrats authorized, however solely 11% of Republicans did.
General, it discovered 57% approval and 37% disapproval.
“Republicans’ low preliminary assist for Biden is a powerful indicator that the nation will stay politically polarized,” Gallup says.
A second main California polling outfit, the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Research, surveyed state voters beginning on Biden’s third day. Voters weren’t requested concerning the president’s job efficiency, solely their “impression” of him.
Identical end result: 87% of Democrats had a good impression, 80% of Republicans considered him unfavorably. General, together with independents, California voters’ impressions of Biden had been 62% favorable, 32% unfavorable, 6% no opinion.
“It’s a hyper-partisan world,” IGS ballot director Mark DiCamillo says. “The space between events is wider than at any time in historical past — on most points. It’s simply terrible.
“We even get partisan replies on whether or not individuals ought to put on a masks. I’ve by no means seen this type of stuff.”
One unfavorable results of political polarization is closed minds that aren’t open to details and impartial considering. The prime latest instance is so many Republicans shopping for Trump’s lie that the election was “stolen” from him by voter fraud.
Within the IGS ballot, 93% of Democrats blamed Trump’s fiery rhetoric for “contributing” to the lethal storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. However solely 29% of Republicans did. Amongst Republicans, 83% thought “the mainstream information media” contributed.
The PPIC ballot discovered a number of situations by which voters’ views principally hadn’t modified since January 2020. For instance, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s job approval ranking: 52% now; 49% a yr in the past earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
There have been different comparable year-to-year solutions on these questions: Is local weather change a significant risk? Ought to there be a method for undocumented immigrants to remain right here legally? Ought to there be a government-run “public choice” well being care plan? Is California headed in the suitable course?
“Give it some thought,” says Dan Schnur, a USC and UC Berkeley political science professor and former Republican operative. “Up to now yr, we’ve had a pandemic, a recession, racial reckoning and two impeachments, and nobody has modified his or her thoughts about something.”
That’s a stretch, however a great level. Folks stay of their ideological bins, unreachable by pragmatic politicians. And this makes compromise on public coverage almost inconceivable.
And what’s inflicting the polarization?
“Some great benefits of on-line communication and social media far outweigh the downsides, however that know-how permits us to assemble information networks of our personal that develop into ideological igloos,” Schnur says. “And no opposing opinion or data can penetrate the igloo.”
Republican marketing consultant Rob Stutzman says “we’re burrowed into caves that fulfill what we would like the world to be like.”
An anti-Trumper, Stutzman blames politicians for fertilizing polarization.
“There’s a short-term incentive to perpetuate the division as a result of politicians are basically empowered by one excessive or the opposite,” he says. “Only a few politicians are within the center.”
Biden is an exception, nonetheless, and it paid off final yr.
“If Biden will help bore America to dying about politics once more, that will be useful,” Stutzman says.
We might additionally educate excessive schoolers extra about civics and the way democracyrequires compromise. We might pressure ourselves to look at and browse either side. We might deliver again “equal time” mandates for broadcast networks.
However for the foreseeable future, we’ll most definitely stay in our igloos and caves, devoid of out of doors mild.
George Skelton is a columnist for the Los Angeles Instances.