Common ground in these polarized times


A head of state prematurely declaring victory, then alleging widespread voter fraud and refusing to concede. Businesses boarding up, concerned about post-election violence, and armed activists threatening the work of elections officials.

These kinds of scenes, so familiar in far-away authoritarian regimes, are unfortunately playing out in the United States today. For example, Thursday in Philadelphia authorities foiled a plot to attack the PA Convention Center, where vote counting was still underway. There are also reports of armed protestors outside polling centers in Maricopa County, Arizona as workers continued counting ballots.

Potentially making matters worse is the intense level of partisan polarization across the country. Urban centers remain very blue, rural areas deeply red, and there are stark racial differences in the majority of Biden supporters versus Trump supporters. If allegations of rigged elections and threats of armed conflict are the sparks, then deeply divided societies provide the kindling that can cause massive destruction.

Fortunately, in Southern California, voters are not as deeply divided by party or race as we might fear. In October 2020, the Center for Social Innovation conducted an annual fall survey of Southern Californians, in collaboration with the Southern California News Group. Survey questions focused on the November election, political attitudes, and the impacts of the pandemic among other topics.