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Eitan Hersh on Politics as Us-vs.-Them Competition
August 11, 2016
“Democrats and Republicans will cheer, boo, emote and say outlandish things because it is easier and more fun to think about politics in terms of us-vs.-them competition, just like with sports,” writes Eitan Hersh in a piece for FiveThirtyEight, published August 11, 2016.
Hersh found that about 18 percent of baseball fans in the Northeast said they would be upset if they had a son or daughter marry a fan of the rival team. He also found that the response to the political version of the question – if they’d be upset if their child married someone from the other party – is roughly the same. “Partisan polarization is often not about issues or ideology, but about social identity, teamsmanship and feelings of who is the in-group and who is the out-group,” he observes.
But as Hersh notes, the stakes in sports and in politics are quite different.