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Partisanship shapes beliefs about political and non-political issues
Date:11/12/2012

A pre-election survey by the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago found that party affiliation alters how people react to political as well as non-political issues, including how individuals assess their own financial well-being.

The results suggest that partisanship is often a substitute for knowledge and personal experience, researchers said.

"We conducted this survey because the country is facing serious problems and solving them is made much harder by our deep partisan divide," said Kirk Wolter, senior fellow and executive vice president of survey research with NORC at the University of Chicago. "NORC develops objective information to inform decision-makers and the public on the most important issues facing the nation. In this case, we wanted to measure what the American people were thinking and how partisanship affects their opinions. With this survey, we are attempting to provide information that will help all of us discuss how to bridge the partisan divide and solve our most pressing problems."

The survey of 2,136 adults, conducted in the weeks prior to the 2012 presidential election, measured public opinion about key issues and knowledge about responsibility for recent policies, such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Affordable Care Act. Across ideologies, partisan views had the potential to distort understanding of basic facts.

Who is Responsible for the State of the Economy? Depends on Who You Ask

"In the survey, it is clear that Republicans and Democrats see the world very differently," said Mark Hansen, the Charles L. Hutchinson Professor in Political Science. "Even matters that are not obviously political, like whether or not people think the economy is improving or whether their family's finances have improved, were strongly influenced by political party affiliation.

"Democrats were more likely to sense that the nation's economy is getting better
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Contact: William Harms
w-harms@uchicago.edu
773-702-8356
University of Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

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