Nightly News   |  October 15, 2013

Red-blue division isn’t so black and white

Although most Americans have been told the U.S. is sharply divided by red and blue, an Esquire/NBC News survey indicates a majority of the country actually falls in the middle. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> because of these clashing extremes in washington right now, it is easy to believe the same political divide exists in cities and towns and neighborhoods all across our country. and might just define our country and our politics these days. but nbc news and esquire magazine have partnered on a new survey of our current political landscape that suggests we are not exactly that. and in fact, according to a data we are still a nation with a wide political center . our report on that from our white house chief correspondent and political director, chuck todd .

>> reporter: go to any neighborhood in the country and you will find what we found in our new survey. americans are a lot more pragmatic in their political views than washington politicians give them credit for. you have been conditioned to look at blue and red, but that is not what you are, a new survey found we could all use a new pair of 3-d center. a majority of the country, 51% actually falls in the middle lane of american politics . the hard left lane is just 21%, and the hard right lane is only slightly bigger at 28%.

>> what is happening in washington is there is polarization, that is not necessarily what is happening in the country.

>> reporter: the center is as diverse as the country and basically fall into four categories, the mini van moderates are are in the suburbs, the center lives on the coast, while the most cynical and sometimes apathetic group, largely under 40. emily robless, an international businesswoman, is a lot like the middle.

>> i don't think i fit into a box.

>> reporter: she is with the 53% who favor gay marriage , but also is part of the 7% who think affirmative action should end.

>> you should be accepted into college, not on your heritage or the color of your skin.

>> reporter: culturally, this is a live and let live group. 52% are okay with legalizing marijuana, but 79% believe that government is spending too much money. this woman sums up the attitude toward both major parties.

>> i have just come to expect that i don't fit. i don't fit in either party. so i have almost become comfortable in the middle.

>> reporter: you know, brian, we asked a couple of major political consultants , david axelrod , mike murphy for the republicans, to analyze the data, here is what mike murphy said, all of congress should be listening to that. and check with us at nightly news.

>> i love hearing the boxes that the pollsters insist on putting us in.

>> we at least have more.

>> chuck todd , thank you as