United in Their Discord: Americans Deeply Concerned About Political Divisions

United in Their Discord: Americans Deeply Concerned About Political Divisions United in Their Discord: Americans Deeply Concerned About Political Divisions (Dreamstime)

By Nicole Wells | Friday, 04 February 2022 07:45 PM

Deeply concerned about political divisions in the country, voters believe civility has gone downhill since the pandemic began and President Joe Biden took office, a new poll shows.

The most recent Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service Battleground Civility Poll reveals some bleak statistics about the present state of politics in America.

According to the survey, 43% of voters believe political relations have become less civil since Biden was inaugurated last year, while only 29% say they have become more civil.

Two-thirds of voters said divisions had worsened since the beginning of the pandemic, and they blamed battles over masking and vaccine mandates.

"Politics and the pandemic are driving polarization, and voters continue to believe this is one of our country's biggest challenges," the institute's Executive Director Mo Elleithee said.

Politicians have, at times, accused public health officials of lying about COVID-19, fueling an already charged pandemic response.

Airlines reported an uptick in the number of unruly passengers, reportedly provoked by mask mandates.

Even music streaming platforms, such as Spotify, have gotten caught in the crosshairs of public opinion over whether they are spreading COVID-19 misinformation or supporting free speech.

Last year's Jan. 6 protest at the Capitol is also seen as a turning point for political demonstrations, according to the poll.

Of the 1,000 voters surveyed, 58% said they believed future political protests will be more violent, compared with 23% who said that was less likely to be the case.

Ironically, the magnitude of the country's discord is one of the few things which Americans seem to agree on.

"As has been the trend in the past several years of this poll, the numbers reveal that if there is one thing that unites America, it is the feeling that divisions in this country are running dangerously high," said Celinda Lake, of Lake Research Partners.

There has been a small increase in the number of people who think the nation is headed in the right direction since the last battleground poll in October — from 29% to 32%.

"Easily the most positive piece of news out of the whole survey is that, when confronted with the statement, 'I am optimistic about the future because young people are committed to making this country a better place to live for everyone,' over half of Americans (58%) agree," Lake said.

The latest battleground poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters between Jan. 22-27 and has a margin of error of plus 3.5 percentage points.

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