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Social media, partisan news outlets and divisive political events suggest an American people split into two opposing camps, with no common ground. But a report by think tank More in Common suggests the majority of Americans are caught in the middle, exhausted and silenced by conflict. We discover the insights behind the emerging demographic, and understand why America may not be as polarised as it appears to be.

A study by think tank More In Common reports that America’s polarized tribes – the political right and left – makeup only a small minority of the population, while a majority of people are caught in the middle. According to the report 'Hidden Tribes', a quarter of Americans consider themselves traditional conservatives, while 8% say they are progressive activists. But over two thirds of Americans fall into the 'exhausted majority', who are more politically flexible and have views that deviate from issue to issue. Unlike the left and right minorities, those in the middle want more political compromise – 65% of them say that "people I agree with politically need to be willing to listen to others and compromise."

Why America’s ‘exhausted majority’ want political compromise Why America’s ‘exhausted majority’ want political compromise
Strelka Institute (2018) ©

"We have found a large segment of the population whose voices are rarely heard above the shouts of the partisan tribes," the report states. "While they differ on important issues, they feel exhausted by the division in the United States. They believe that compromise is necessary in politics, as in other parts of life, and want to see the country come together and solve its problems." In fractured times, political allegiances have been embraced as a social label by both individuals and brands – Reebok, LL Bean, Nine Line and Nike have all flown their political flags to appeal to those who share their opinion of political issues. But with the silent majority desiring compromise, promoting conversation and bipartisanship, an advert like Heineken’s 'Open Your World' spot did, might be the tack worth taking.

Katy Young is a behavioural analyst at Canvas8, which specialises in behavioural insights and consumer research She has a degree in American Studies and Film and an MA in Journalism. Her interests include wild swimming, thinking of podcast ideas and singing in an all-female choir.

Canvas8

24 Oct 18
2 min read

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