The American people love to rag on Congress for failing to agree on much of anything these days.

They should probably look in the mirror instead.

A new study on polarization from the Pew Research Center shows that, on basically any issue you ask people about, voters of the two major political parties are farther apart than they have been in the last two decades.


Government regulation? Most polarized in 20 years.

Aid for the poor? Most polarized in 20 years.

Corporate profits? Most polarized in 20 years.

Environmental regulations? Most polarized in 20 years.

The numbers are pretty staggering:

  • Of the 10 issues Pew asked about, Americans are more polarized than they were 20 years ago on all 10 of them
  • In eight of the 10 cases, the gap between Republicans and Democrats is about twice as big -- or bigger -- than it was in 1994
  • In eight of 10 cases, Americans are more polarized than they have been at any point over the entire 20-year period

There is plenty of data out there showing how polarized Congress is and -- accordingly -- how little it gets done.

But to some extent, Congress is an extension of the polarization that exists in the American people. And as this poll shows, members of the two American political parties increasingly disagree on basically any ideological question you could pose to them.

That's not exactly a recipe for political compromise or getting things done.