Skip to main content

Our Common Bonds: Using What Americans Share to Help Bridge the Partisan Divide

Book cover of "Our Common Bonds"A compelling exploration of concrete strategies to reduce partisan animosity by building on what Democrats and Republicans have in common.  

One of the defining features of twenty-first-century American politics is the rise of affective polarization: Americans increasingly not only disagree with those from the other party but distrust and dislike them as well. This has toxic downstream consequences for both politics and social relationships. Is there any solution?

Our Common Bonds
 shows that—although there is no silver bullet that will eradicate partisan animosity—there are concrete interventions that can reduce it. Matthew Levendusky argues that partisan animosity stems in part from partisans’ misperceptions of one another. Democrats and Republicans think they have nothing in common, but this is not true. Drawing on survey and experimental evidence, the book shows that it is possible to help partisans reframe the lens through which they evaluate the out-party by priming commonalities—specifically, shared identities outside of politics, cross-party friendships, and common issue positions and values identified through civil cross-party dialogue.  Doing so lessons partisan animosity, and it can even reduce ideological polarization. The book discusses what these findings mean for real-world efforts to bridge the partisan divide.