Today, a significant and rising number of Americans endorse the use of political violence against their opponents — including four out of 10 Republicans — with upwards of 70 percent of us feeling it is likely to occur in the near future. Recently, a U.S. district judge issued a warning on the high probability of more Jan. 6-like violence due to former President Donald Trump's ongoing weaponization of the "Big Lie" over the stealing of the 2020 election, which he repeated again Saturday night.
Yet even in this context, thousands of individuals and families living in dozens of counties across America have somehow managed to fight off these forces of discord and promote political tolerance.
These are the top 1 percent of the most politically-tolerant counties in America, according to a 2019 poll taken by PredictWise. They are places spread out across our landscape, from Adams, Wash., and Beaver, Utah, to counties in Texas, North Carolina and upstate New York. What can we learn from these islands of agreement holding out against the cultural riptide dividing us?
We recently ran a study comparing the top and bottom 1 percent of politically-tolerant counties in the U.S. to see what we might learn. We used the county rankings from the 2019 survey on affective polarization — or degrees of mutual dislike and distrust felt between Republicans and Democrats — to identify the top and bottom counties, and then mined this data, as well as data from the 2019 U.S. Census and the U.S. Crisis Monitor.
Here’s what we found.