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Our Common Bonds

Using What Americans Share to Help Bridge the Partisan Divide

Our Common Bonds

Using What Americans Share to Help Bridge the Partisan Divide

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.   

240 pages | 27 line drawings, 18 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2023

Chicago Studies in American Politics

Political Science: American Government and Politics, Political Behavior and Public Opinion


“Twenty-first-century American politics has been defined by polarization. In two prior seminal books, Levendusky offered crucial insights into how ideological sorting and partisan media have shaped the ways in which citizens have polarized. This book is yet another foundational contribution, revealing what strategies can counteract dangerously high levels of affective polarization. The book greatly advances what we know about citizen reasoning, partisanship, and identity more generally. It is required reading for all who want to understand and improve American democracy. In short, Levendusky has yet again provided an agenda-setting book.”

James N. Druckman, Northwestern University

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Is Overcoming Division a Fantasy?
Chapter 2: How Can We Mitigate Partisan Animosity?
Chapter 3: Can Our Shared Identities Bridge the Partisan Divide?
Chapter 4: Why Can’t We Be Friends: Can Cross-Party Friendships Mitigate Affective Polarization?
Chapter 5: Does Cross-Party Dialogue Reduce Partisan Animus?
Chapter 6: Are There Downstream Consequences to Reducing Affective Polarization?
Chapter 7: What Does This All Mean?
Appendix: Data Sources Used

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