Political News

Political frenemies: Readers react to poll about party divisions among friends

Posted October 6

— Reporter's note: These reactions were gathered by email from readers asked to comment in CNN's "The Point" newsletter with Chris Cillizza.

A new survey from the Pew Research Center released on Thursday shows a majority of both Republicans and Democrats say they have "just a few" or no friends in the opposing party.

But when asked by CNN, some readers said they prefer to skip talking about politics to avoid arguments about politics. So how do those few people balance being friends with someone from the other side of the aisle? Some, it seems, choose to stick their heads in the sand.

"I have several friends with different political views," Raymond B. Firehock, of Virginia, told CNN in an email. "We remain friends by not discussing politics. ... I find Republicans (here meaning those who support or tolerate Trump) to be so delusional as to be dangerous, and so impervious to the demands of reality as to be clinically insane. In the words of Philip K. Dick: 'reality is that which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Firehock is not alone.

"Yes, I do have friends of a different political bent than me," Kim Hemphill told CNN in an email. "Why? Usually because I was friends with them long before we ever even discussed our political leanings and I'm not about to reject them as friends now just because they don't agree with my politic philosophy. I will say though that I avoid talking politics with those friends as much as possible now. Why spoil the relationship?"

The Pew survey found almost two in three Democrats (64%) and more than half of Republicans (55%) say they have "just a few" close friends, or "none," who are Republicans or Democrats, respectively. "Republicans and Democrats both say their friend networks and predominantly made up of people who are like-minded politically," the report says.

But some, like Archit Kalra, prefer being friends with people of diverse opinions.

"I choose to have friends from different sections of the political spectrum as I am intrigued by how various individuals with contrasting political affiliations express their ideas and what their beliefs are," the Florida resident said in an email to CNN. "By mingling with people from different political parties, I gain a plethora of knowledge about their views on certain issues and am given the opportunity to debate with them on these issues."

Others, like Lucy Horton, of Pennsylvania, are selective about who they share their political beliefs with.

"We have some acquaintances whose beliefs are not known," Horton wrote in an email. "We might go out to dinner, but that can be a superficial situation. With our close friends, we share a set of beliefs, which make us comfortable and relaxed. Having to hold one's tongue is not conducive to a great social experience. My husband and I have deep convictions which go to the core of who we are, so sharing a set of beliefs is key component in our close friendships. I imagine this is true of most people."

As for relatives? Horton said: "That's always the wild card."

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