Back in December 2003, I came out with a poll that helped define the 2004 United States presidential election. Based on the purely artificial construct known as "Red States" (those who voted for George W. Bush in 2000) and "Blue States" (those who voted for Albert Gore), I found an America that seemed hopelessly divided. Some states wore their color only on the basis of a few hundred or thousand votes, but the differences between the two categories were striking. About three in five Red Staters owned a gun, while only 35% of Blue Staters did. Blue State voters were 9 points more likely to be single and never married than Red Staters. Both groups believed in God - the Red God was all -powerful and knowing while the Blue God was the famed Watchmaker.

By late 2006, my polling showed an easing of the rift. There was a growing Center and the critical mass of voters of all parties and stripes told my interviewers that their preference for a President was a problem-solver, consensus-builder, and competent manager. None of these traits were ideological. In 2008, both political parties, despite the heavy rhetoric of partisans, nominated the two candidates who could lay claim to being problem-solvers and consensus-builders.

But no sooner did Barack Obama ascend to the Presidency, then the country split asunder. Today, the US election and polity are as hyper-partisan split as ever - perhaps not this much since the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln which literally tore the country apart. But there is something beneath the surface that intrigues me.

Sadly, the US political system is trapped in this partisan maze. Structurally, too many candidates for Congress and Senate have to appeal to their loudest partisan and ideological voices in order to get elected this year. We in fact have watched longtime prominent conservatives lose their own party primaries because of the most vocal ideologues and partisans in their own party. Congressional and Presidential elections are captured by special interests and legions of consultants who only understand war. It has been very lucrative for many people but has not helped "the people", you know the ones our Founding Fathers mentioned so prominently in the Constitution.

My company, JZ Analytics, just completed a poll in partnership with Research!America, a major not-for-profit alliance supporting medical and health research. Despite some differences in how various partisans and demographics see some issues, I am struck by the levels of agreement on many key health and medical issues - especially at a time when these issues could once again be prominent in an election. At least 70% of Democrats, Republican, independents, Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street supporters feel it is important that candidates for President and Congress have a "science adviser". Sixty-percent or more of each group say that the "cost of health care" is the most important issue and all groups rank obesity as the second most important issue. At least a plurality of all these groups are "willing to pay one dollar more to support medical research" and at least 60% of each feel that the "federal government should spend more for scientific research to expand both medical knowledge and innovation". No less than 60% of any of these groups feel that current the Department of Defense does "not spend enough" on medical research.

At least a plurality of each group favors the use of embryonic stem cell research. What has been in the past two decades such a frenzied issue in defining the US in a state of culture war has subsided into a near national consensus. Overall, 62% of voters favor the use of "embryonic stem cells for medical research", while 24% are opposed. This includes factors of 73% to 13% among Democrats, 49% to 35% of Republicans, 62% to 24% among independents, 46% to 45% among Tea Party Supporters and 84% to 13% of Occupy Wall Street supporters. Even a slight plurality of Born Again or evangelical voters are in favor - 45% to 42% -- bolstered by a majority of their group who are under 35 years of age and whose focus on many of these related issues is quite different than that their elders. As for the future, all voters who are 18-29 years old favor embryonic stem cell research 71% to 17%.

The 2012 election is already being bitterly fought and over one billion dollars will be spent to tear the American people apart. But, for those candidates and officials who read polls, there is actually room from significant numbers of "the people" to talk, negotiate, break some bread, and find consensus. There may be some hope that some officials might be able to build a new consensus among those voters who are willing to "cross borders" to share, seek solutions, and work with the other side. Those officials who do this are the kind that we build monuments to.