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Vanderbilt researchers create 'unity index' to show political divide

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Posted at 9:41 PM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 22:41:28-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There's no question that Americans seem more politically divided now than ever before, leading many to ask, is there any chance for unity anymore?

Vanderbilt University political science professor John Geer is one of the researchers behind a new Vanderbilt Unity Index, showing the direction of the country when it comes to how divided factions are.

The index shows over the last 40 years, the country was most united around the time of the first Gulf War, but Geer said it's generally declined since, hitting a low after the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

One culprit Geer said is cable news channels and social media echo chambers that feed information that mostly aligns with people's established political views.

"The tendency for people to rely on information that's very biased on the left and right, and they have these knee-jerk reactions, and that's really a serious problem," Geer said.

So how can the nation get that unity back? Geer said one way is to focus political discussions based on facts and evidence.