The 2018 Mid-term election saw a spike in voter turnout from both Democrats and Republicans.
But a recent poll from the McCourtney Institute at Penn State indicates low voter empathy for the opposing political party.
What is that? A fancy way of saying one side of the ticket doesn’t relate or feel for the other.
Polling Director and Penn State Professor Eric Plutzer says they asked voters after they cast their ballot to give three reasons why voting the opposite party is best for the country.
One out of ten voters from both parties were baffled and couldn’t find one reason. And about one in three expressed hostility towards the other party, both directly and through sarcastic comments.
Plutzer does believe there is hope for some unity between voters.
“Right now they have to get over that emotional response,” said Plutzer. “Only about a third of our voters really tried to be positive and say, I guess I can see they think this is in the best interest of the country…and we need to build on that and grow the number of citizens who are both motivated and able to see things from other people’s perspectives.”
A lot of folks believe President Trump is the cause of this un-empathic electorate. But Plutzer disagrees.
“I don’t think that’s the key thing here, I think polarization was growing before the last presidential election. I think people are increasingly hearing messages that support their own feelings and with social media, people are now well practiced in typing and writing things that they may not say face-to-face in person,” said Plutzer.
And to Plutzer, it’s that face-to-face interaction that has to happen if communities look to take the results of this poll as and learn how to better work together.
“It also has to then get into community groups and then town halls,” he said. “It has to move from just information to working together to solve common problems.”