The Hidden Common Ground Initiative

More and more we hear about how Americans have become so divided that we cannot possibly understand one another, let alone find common ground or work together toward common ends. Based on our 40 years of public opinion research and hands-on community engagement experience, we beg to differ.

The Hidden Common Ground Initiative™ (HCG) and the Strange Bedfellows stories challenge the increasingly dominant narrative of a hopelessly-divided America by identifying and elevating the areas and narratives where Americans agree on solutions to politically-polarized issues, and by fostering productive dialogue on those areas where we truly disagree.

The Strange Bedfellows stories appeared on October 20, 2020 in USA Today national and local affiliate papers as a collection of narratives about Americans coming together across political, racial, religious, and numerous other perceived dividing lines to solve problems in their communities.

Strange Bedfellows

Image used with permission from USA TODAY/Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser.

Released October 2020

Look for robust coverage of Hidden Common GroundTM in USA TODAY.
Media Mentions:
Learn more about how The National Issues Forums facilitates the deliberation and exchange of ideas about Hidden Common Ground™ issues.

Released September 2020

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Released August 2020

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Released June 2020

Read the snapshot.

Released May 2020

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Released April 2020

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Released March 2020

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Released February 2020

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The Public Agenda/USA TODAY Hidden Common Ground 2020 Project
with The National Issues Forums, the America Amplified: Election 2020 public media initiative, Ipsos, and Vote.Org

HCG 2020 is the latest, and most exciting iteration of our HCG initiative. Throughout the presidential election season it will involve public opinion research on major issues, innovative journalism and commentary, broad-based public engagement, “Strange Bedfellows” storytelling, and community-based dialogues and events.

Hidden Common Ground is supported by a diverse group of foundations, including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, as well as through the generosity of individual donors. In addition, the Kettering Foundation is a research partner of the initiative.

HCG focuses on little known or otherwise underappreciated areas of agreement among the public on solutions to tough issues, like health care, immigration and economic development. The research also gets to the roots of whether people feel held back from working with each other in general.

“Divisiveness and Collaboration in America” is the first research publication of our Hidden Common Ground 2020 partnership. Additional research, to be released throughout 2020, will cover health care, immigration, and economic opportunity.

You can sign up for regular updates here, and participate on social media by using the hashtags #HiddenCommonGround and #publicagenda.

Learn about HCG 2020 funders.

Read the press release.


HCG was launched by Public Agenda in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation in 2018, resulting in our first two HCG reports:  Where Americans See Eye to Eye on Incarceration and Where Americans See Eye to Eye on Health care.