Against a backdrop of great concern that democracy is under threat, Americans also believe that the potential for political violence is increasing. And compared to 2021, the percentage holding that view is itself even higher.
The potential for violence is linked in part to the perception of growing divisions. As many as 80% of Americans believe America is more divided today than their parents’ generation. (And here, older Americans are even more likely to say this, whose parents’ generation would have survived the turmoil of the ’60s.
And looking ahead, a majority believe America a generation from now will not be as democratic as it is today.
Of course, examining so-called divisions and polarization can be done in many ways. One is to assume that part of democracy is about rights. Who has what rights? And when asked about the state of rights in America today, he reveals one clear example of fundamental differences between partisans.
For the majority of Democrats, not enough people in America are getting the rights they deserve right now. For the majority of Republicans, too many people today want rights they don’t deserve.
Either way, neither party believes the balance is right today.
Another way to measure is to look at how partisans today look at each other. That’s as political opponents—those who can perhaps resolve their differences through the system, or those who pose an existential threat who can’t.
About half of partisan supporters view the other side as their enemy, with 47% of Democrats viewing Republicans this way and 49% of Republicans viewing Democrats as their enemy. Obviously, it’s not all partisan. Within each self-identified group, ideology and activism play a role. Liberal Democrats are more likely than moderate Democrats to classify Republicans as such. It reports that it believes it is part of
So what’s next? Today, there are not many optimists, only one-third say they are optimistic, and Americans can come together to resolve their differences.
Would politics be better if there was more diversity in the groups represented by elected officials? No single group or response received an overall majority, but the most Young people dominated elected offices, followed closely by women holding public office. Especially women found this helpful.
Also note that Americans broadly reject the concept of violence. 86% say violence is always unacceptable, no matter the party or ideology.
In this sense, most people still want unity. There isn’t much support for his (perhaps unrealistic) idea of dividing the country into two nations: “red” states and “blue” states.
Opposition comes from both Democratic and Republican, conservative and liberal majority, but a relatively large number of Democrats strongly oppose the idea of a split.
This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted using a nationally representative sample of 2,085 US adult residents interviewed between August 29-31, 2022. Samples are from the US Census American Community Survey and the current Census, as well as to the 2020 presidential election. The error range is ±2.6 points.