How Republicans and Democrats are different, in 1 chart​

May 21, 2014

Want to understand how different Democrats and Republicans are? Check out this chart on news consumption over the last week, courtesy of the Pew Research Center.

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Nearly half of all liberal Democrats said they were closely following the story of racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.  Less than one in five conservative Republicans said the same. On the  other hand, almost four in 10 conservative Republicans said they were closely following the formation of the Benghazi House select committee, while just 15 percent of liberal Democrats said the same.

The reality made plain by these numbers? That the difference between Democrats and Republicans is beyond simple disagreements on a set of mutually agreed upon decisions. Instead, it's founded in the fact that the two simply don't care about -- or, at the very least, aren't paying attention to -- the same things at the same time.  The Benghazi committee is a perfect example. For Democrats -- elected officials and the party base -- it's a sideshow issue (at best). But, many Republicans are following it extremely closely and believe that the committee is far more than a fishing expedition aimed at damaging President Obama and/or Hillary Clinton.

The Pew numbers reflect a broader trend that has accompanied the fracturing of the mainstream media over the last decade-plus. And that is silo-ing of media consumption where liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans can read, watch and listen to only viewpoints similar to their own. As a result, different segments along the ideological spectrum have not just different views on the same issue but entirely different palettes of issues that attract their attention.

So, if it seems like the parties' bases are talking past one another, it's because they are.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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