The critical difference between Republicans and Democrats that explains the presidential campaign

From The Washington Post:

With convention season now in full swing, national polling shows a close contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The recent tightening of the presidential race highlights a recurring theme of this year’s election cycle: the surprising willingness of Republicans to come together behind Donald Trump.

This willingness presents a puzzle to a nation of pundits who have underestimated Trump’s viability for more than a year: How should we understand the coalescence of Republican support around a candidate recently viewed as unelectable by most analysts? Conversely, why has it taken so long for Clinton to unite Democrats despite significant advantages in resources, organization, and experience?

Several studies published in recent years in the field of political psychology suggest a new answer to these questions, namely that conservatives — the ideological base of the Republican Party — may simply be more inclined to form political consensus than liberals are. It’s a tendency that may help to explain our surprisingly tight 2016 election.

This research (by one of us, Chadly Stern, and collaborators) proposes that the conservative consensus advantage arises in part from a fundamental drive shared by all humans: the motivation to “share reality.” Past work finds that we all possess a motivation to build and maintain shared perceptions of reality with the people around us. You can think of the motivation to share reality as a sort of social glue, without which we would be unable to communicate, work in teams and achieve shared goals.

But although everyone possesses this motivation to some extent, conservatives tend to have more of it than liberals. For example, one study found in an online sample of Americans that conservatives were more likely to report that it is important to them to “see the world in a similar way” as people with whom they generally share the …

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