Over the last few years, I have talked about how many times both sides of the political debate make wrong assumptions about each other. This misperception is certain to increase as we enter into this political season.
Arthur Brooks provides further academic documentation for this reality. A study that appeared in the Journal of Politics revealed that the average Democrat believes that more than 40 percent of Republicans earn more than $250,000. That is a number that is completely wrong. Approximately two percent of Republicans are doing that well financially. The study also found that Republicans believe that a significant percent of Democrats are LGBTQ. Only 6 percent of Democrats fit that designation.
The misperception apparently is worse for liberals than for conservatives. Jonathan Haidt in his book, The Righteous Mind, documented a detailed study of predictions liberals and conservatives would make about each other. He concluded that, “Moderates and conservatives were most accurate in their predictions, whether they were pretending to be liberals or conservatives. Liberals were the least accurate, especially those who described themselves as very liberal.”
That last point also shows up in the research cited by Arthur Brooks. The perception gap for the average Democrat or Republican is significant and concerning. But it pales in comparison to the most partisan in both parties. He reports that, “progressive activists and devoted conservatives—are the most inaccurate in their perceptions of the other side.”
And they are driving much of the debate. Only about 22 percent of US adults are on Twitter, and 80 percent of the tweets come from 10 percent of the users. So he concludes that if you rely on Twitter for your political information, you are being informed by 2.2 percent of the population.
This is one more reason for you to exercise great discernment in this election season.