By Whitney Ross Manzo and David McLennan
Recently, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) gained attention for a statement in which she argued for a national divorce between red and blue states. She argued that from “the sick and disgusting woke culture issues shoved down our throats to the Democrat’s traitorous America Last policies, we are done.” Although Greene was widely criticized for her remarks, even by members of the Republican Party, her comments reflected the belief that America’s political polarization is based on wildly divergent policy positions. Her comments also suggest that polarization has increased to the point that the country may be at a breaking point.
Although there is evidence that policy differences exist, particularly on cultural war issues, and may contribute to political polarization, there is also a body of research that suggests that political polarization is based on social identity differences. As opposed to differences in ideology, affective polarization is the idea that we identify with people more similar in identity to us (political affiliation, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) and feel dislike and even disgust for those who are different from us.
Using data from the Meredith Poll from 2017-2023, we set out to examine whether we find evidence of polarization among North Carolinians. Do North Carolinians perceive there to be high levels of polarization? And, are North Carolinians polarized, either by issue or by identity?