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Inspired by this reddit post that shows that ones opinion on AI-generated art/text is basically independent of whether one is a Democrat, Independent, or Republican.

My question is: what big issues are mostly uncorrelated/independent of political alignment (e.g. whether one is a Republican, a leftist, etc.)?

Some examples of incorrect answers would be abortion (pro-life is a stance taken much more by Republicans), gun control (leftists are for much stronger gun control), and climate change (republicans are much more in favour of protecting legacy industries like coal and oil).

Also, note that I ask for divisive issues. If it's something like "murder is bad", then everyone agrees with that, so of course it's independent of political alignment. I want issues that actually have a significant portion of people on each side, with people of each political alignment supporting each side roughly equally.

Lastly, if it's not abundantly clear, my question is solely about the United States (though it'd be interesting to hear what the answers would be for other countries).

Also at the risk of stating the very obvious, please limit your answers to subjects related to "governments, policies and political processes".

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  • WHen you say "with people of each political alignment supporting each side roughly equally", do you mean that the US population is divided about 50/50, or just that the a persons stance is uncorrelated with party? The term limits topic and the Catholic topic split the US into about 80/20 groups.
    – Jetpack
    Sep 11, 2023 at 3:16

10 Answers 10

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There is a YouTube video which discusses how antipathy towards corporate welfare is popular among non-politicians across the board. Nobody who isn't profiting from it likes the idea of large corporations getting subsidies, loans, loan guarantees, or bail-outs from the federal government.

The appeal is easy to understand for each band in the political spectrum:

  • The left end has always opposed big business, and corporate welfare is simply big business feeding at the trough.
  • The right end favors smaller government and minimal government interference in the economy; corporate welfare runs against both elements.
  • The libertarians opposes corporate welfare for the same reasons as the right, not even making the right's exception for military spending.
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    What about all the investors? Don't they favour it? And what about members of large retirement funds? If their retirement fund is heavily invested in a big businesses that are failing, don't they love government bailouts too? Sep 11, 2023 at 9:29
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    Nobody likes subsidies to companies they dislike or don't care about. Very few people disagree with subsidies to "worthy" companies. What those worthy companies might be differs by party: Dems sure loaded the Green New Deal with a lot of pork for worthy companies. And a lot of Reps in the Midwest feel just fine with subsidies to corn ethanol, which "solves" a problem they claim doesn't even exist. Sep 12, 2023 at 0:37
  • Even taking the answer as-is, this seems like the opposite of a divisive issue that isn't correlated with political alignment, as you're saying it's popular across the board. The question explicitly says it's asking for issues that aren't agreed on by both sides, but issues that are significantly divisive, just along lines other than the left/right political spectrum.
    – Idran
    Sep 12, 2023 at 14:10
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    The division is between those who profit from corporate welfare and everyone else.
    – EvilSnack
    Sep 12, 2023 at 14:20
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica: Adding ethanol to gasoline has practical purposes (oxygenate and octane booster) beyond reducing fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse emissions. But yeah, corn growers are happy to have the subsidies.
    – dan04
    Sep 29, 2023 at 20:11
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The first thing I thought of when reading this question was anti-vaccine activism, which appears to occur on both the left and the right. Introductory reading:

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    I was under the impression that the anti-vaccine ideas mostly occurred on the more extreme sides of the political spectrum, so people that are either considered very rightwing within the Republicans or very leftwing within the Democrats. Could still count as both sides of the political spectrum though.
    – quarague
    Sep 9, 2023 at 6:59
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    According to Pew, the vaccinated are much more likely to identify as democrat instead of republican (68% vs 27%); unvaccinated is 20% vs 70%. Also, from 2019 to 2023, support for vaccine requirements for children plummeted from 79% to 57% for republicans, while for democrats that dropped a shocking 1%, from 86% to 85%. So that's a significant party divide. Where's this "shocking number" of leftwingers? Not in the data, it seems. The left certainly isn't similarly affected.
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 11, 2023 at 14:59
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    This used to be more true, but COVID-19 exposed (or contributed to) a large shift in vaccine skepticism on the political right. Vaccination rates and vaccine opinions show a very large difference in red and blue counties. The last several years have shown that vaccine sentiment is very strongly associated with political affiliation. That there are some anti-vaccine activists at both extremes does not imply that there is no political bias to the issue. Until recently, this wasn't a particularly divisive issue, it's only become so because it is political and no longer confined to extremes. Sep 13, 2023 at 13:46
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Term limits for the US Congress may be qualify under this rubric.

"Why term limits" claims that

76% of Democrats, 89% of Republicans, and 83% of Independents Americans support term limits.

By the way, I don't know who funds them. And as any Washington interest group, they must persist on some outside funding. I think their positions are generic enough that they can be stated without the need for any additional context.


Generally both parties, however, adopt positions against term limits when a number of their party's Congress members, who have survived many elections, grows high enough.

And given that we have a fairly elderly Congress right now (median age is 59, and it will be 60 during the next election year ), the self-serving position for Congress is to be against term limits.


This is not unlike the usual situation in which Congress has a very low approval rating, but each individual Congress person has a high enough approval rating among their voters to get re-elected. Obviously, it's easier to blame an abstract entity, which cannot make its case with counter arguments, than it is to attack a specific politician, who makes their living defending their political career in public.

The arguments for, and against, term limits are nothing new. They have always been the same. But, at the moment, they find a lot of support among the people and not a lot of support among the politicians.

I think, as controversies go, this one is particularly low-key. So while people have opinions about it, it's not very animating.

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  • The case for term limits (vs no term limits) is the same as the case for representative democracy (vs pure democracy): They both provide a degree of protection from the foolishness of other voters.
    – EvilSnack
    Sep 15, 2023 at 12:50
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There are some groups that are fairly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. One example is Catholics, so if you consider a position that is held by Catholics, such as "The supremacy of the Papacy" or "Transubstantiation of the Eucharist" you'll find little correlation with the left-right spectrum of American politics. That is, there are Republicans and Democrats who believe "The Pope is Christ's vicar on Earth." And there are Republicans and Democrats who don't believe that, in roughly equal numbers.

These matters are "big issues", but not big political issues in America at the moment, though they have been big political issues in the past in other countries. It is "divisive" because such religious beliefs are strongly held and do divide communities, at least on Sunday when choosing a church. Moreover it is not an issue that unites at the extremes. It is a position that moderates may hold (or not) in both parties.

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    How mainstream concerns are these within Catholics? I'm a lapsed Catholic since my mid teens but I vaguely paid attention to their debates while living in France - a traditional, if not observant, Catholic country. I think most lay Catholics just go to Church. Or not. Without thinking much about these rather esoteric theological concerns. I never heard them mentioned by any believer face-to-face. If there was a debate in France in the 90s it had more to do with Latin masses. And, sorry to bring up the sorry mess, with child abuse concerns. Where Papal authority may matter more. Sep 10, 2023 at 21:35
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    They are rather fundamental. These are part of the basic dogma of the church. If you don't accept them, then you're not a Roman Catholic. They aren't concerns for most Catholics, in the same way that "Is the President the Commander in Chief" is not a main concern for Americans. Its just a fundamental fact about what being a Cathoilic is, and so not really debated.
    – James K
    Sep 10, 2023 at 21:42
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    I agree, that people don't spend time thinking about this. There is hardly a Catholic who would debate this, so there's no need to think about it.
    – James K
    Sep 10, 2023 at 21:52
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    @JamesK Since Pope Francis was elected, faith in the infallibility of the pope is very much questioned among the more right-wing sectors of the Catholic Church, so I would say there is quite a bit of debate among Catholics, if not among those you know.
    – Rekesoft
    Sep 11, 2023 at 7:49
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    There is hardly a Catholic who would debate this, so there's no need to think about it. Which is precisely why I don't think this is a divisive issue in the sense of this question: it's not a big subject of debate and dispute. Sep 11, 2023 at 18:01
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Nuclear Energy

From an April 2023 Gallup poll:

Divisiveness:

  • 55% of U.S. adults say they “strongly” or “somewhat” favor the use of nuclear energy
  • 44% of Americans “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose such use.

Lack of Correlation:

  • 62% of Republicans, 46% of Democrats and 56% of independents favor the use of nuclear energy to provide electricity in the U.S.

Which isn't no correlation at all, but I'd call it weak.

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Urban planning opinions tend to be completely separate from the political spectrum, despite being a very important issue to a lot of people, especially those directly affected by it (on the one side people who oppose new housing being built in their neighbourhood because it will affect the value of their property, on the other side people who rent who want purchase prices and rent prices to decrease; then there's also a "third side" who want lower prices but believe new development will make prices increase).

There are left-wing and right-wing arguments both for and against e.g. single-family zoning. You can easily find left-wing infighting, right-wing infighting, and baseless accusations towards the other side over zoning.

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    Really? IME this is highly polarized. E.g., the whole set of conspiracy theories gaining traction around "15-minute cities" that're pushed pretty much entirely by the right. Public transit and bike lanes both tend to be pretty polarized (e.g., in the Toronto mayoral election), especially recently. Opinions on multi-family housing seem to be pretty in line with political alignment from what I've experienced. And changing urban planning obviously lines up with the left's ideals given the equity advantages of people not needing cars. Sep 11, 2023 at 18:54
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    @RadvylfPrograms There is also a lot of pushback from the left, who describe multi-family housing as a cash grab by project developers at the cost of "human-scale" single family homes. Abolishing restrictive zoning laws would also seem to line up with the right's ideals of letting people and corporations build whatever is most profitable without government interference. In my experience the insistence on keeping these zoning laws isn't from either political side but from a diverse coalition from all over the spectrum with various ideological reasons to support them. Sep 12, 2023 at 6:49
  • @RadvylfPrograms As an anecdotal point, I live in a mostly left-wing city with a mostly left-wing city government for ages and with a huge housing crisis (because the city attracts so many new inhabitants), and it's still extremely hard to get permission to build anything multi-family. While mostly the politicians realise it's the only way forward, they still get a huge pushback from a large number of their (mostly left-wing) voters for "selling out" the city to project developers. Sep 12, 2023 at 6:55
  • As a person who's both right-wing and anti-car-dependence, I wish what you're saying were true, but I do seem to be against the trend. Though, I think it has more to do with the demographics of cities versus suburbs than with ideology.
    – dan04
    Sep 12, 2023 at 15:49
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Legalization of prostitution

In both the Republican and the Democratic party, some politicians support the legalization of prostitution, while others oppose it. Public opinion is also split; this paper from 2020 says:

Interestingly, support for partially decriminalizing prostitution crosses party lines, with similar levels of support among Democrats (47% support partial decriminalization, 28% strongly) and Republicans (46%, 27%).

A possible explanation would be that there are different motivations for legalization or criminalization of prostitution: people on the right may want to ban it for violation "traditional values", while people on the left may want to ban it to protect the women involved.

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Economists vs public: Many issues/policies are divisive in that economists (across the "left-right" spectrum) generally agree, while non-economists/the general public (across the "left-right" spectrum) generally disagree.

Some examples:

  • Freer labor movement/immigration.
  • Freer trade, tariffs/quotas are generally bad (note: in the past, among non-economists/public, there was a bit more of a correlation with the right liking free trade, but today the right in the US and also other countries are often the most anti-free trade).
  • More carbon taxes.
  • Bilateral trade deficits (e.g. US with China) are not important.
  • Zero-sum fallacies: e.g. if China becomes richer/stronger, that's bad for the US; the rich get richer, the poor get poorer; billionaires prosper at the expense of the poor.
  • These are generally bad ideas: Self-sufficiency, nimbyism, localism.
  • Economists (across left-right spectrum) are generally much less worried and more optimistic about technology/AI (e.g. "taking over jobs") than non-economists (across left-right spectrum).
  • Same with increasing world population ("population bomb" concerns).
  • Subsidies are not magic free money, industrial policy (e.g. current Inflation Reduction Act and similar schemes in Europe, China) generally doesn't work.
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I would say isolationism. Seems to be split more by age than by political affiliation.

UPenn Article About Generational Divide Over Isolationism

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Two things come to my mind:

  1. Creationism. While global warming denial is strongly correlated with right-wing politics, denial of macro-evolution is not.
  2. Veganism. Vegans tend to be either far-left or far-right, few of them being in the center.
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    "Vegans tend to be either far-left or far-right" - are you sure? In my experience, vegans are predominantly left-wing (not necessarily far-left), and I don't think I've ever seen a right-wing vegan.
    – F1Krazy
    Sep 11, 2023 at 17:40
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    Creationism is very right-wing correlated.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 11, 2023 at 17:53
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    According to Pew, as of 2015, 39% of republicans and 25% of democrats reject human evolution (believing that we existed in our current form since the beginning). So that's a notable divide (conservative religious views are more common in conservatives). Also, 6% of republicans and 12% of democrats are vegan/vegetarian. Small numbers, but still a big difference.
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 12, 2023 at 9:54

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