A new poll from the University of Virginia shows how deep the division in American politics has become.
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The fact that there are deep divisions in US politics is nothing new. However, a new and 10 alarming poll shows just how deep the fissures are and to what extent they have influenced large numbers of people in both parties.
For example, more than 40 percent of likely Donald Trump voters, as well as 3 in 10 Democrats, said they regard the current situation in the US as such that they would favor red/blue states forming their separate country, according to the poll, which was conducted by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
In addition, nearly one-third of Republicans and almost a quarter of Democrats no longer consider democracy to be a viable system.
The poll doesn’t delve into what motivated these answers. While Republicans seem generally less interested in democracy, the responses of Democrats may be influenced by the fact that they keep winning popular votes but losing elections because the odds are stacked against them due to the unfairness of the Electoral College, rampant voter suppression efforts, gerrymandering, and a Supreme Court that does not protect voting rights.
The results of the poll don’t get any better after that. More than two-thirds of Democrats and Republicans believe that electing officials from the other party next year “would result in lasting harm to the United States.”
About half of all likely voters for Trump and President Joe Biden said they view voters of the opposite party “as a threat to the American way of life.”
In addition, large numbers of Democratic and Republican voters accuse each other of having become so extreme that they would resort to violence. And that certainly seems like a plausible assessment. After all, the poll also showed that nearly one-third of Trump voters and 21 percent of Biden voters said “the end justifies the means, and any action taken by my preferred political party is acceptable if it achieves our goals.”
Furthermore, 31 percent of Democrats and a quarter of Republicans believe it is “necessary to limit certain rights, like freedom of speech, to protect the feelings and safety of marginalized groups.” Conversely, 45 percent of Republicans and 3 in 10 Democrats supported the enactment of a law that “limits protests and demonstrations deemed by the government to be potentially disruptive to public order.”
Trump voters are also more likely than Democrats to say that the president should be able to disregard Congress when it comes to national security measures, that elections should be suspended during times of crisis, and that laws should be enacted that limit the expression of unpatriotic views.
While it may not be surprising that more than 30 percent of Republicans answered in the affirmative when asked about each of the above, the large number of Democrats who shared these views (between 24 and 30 percent) is.
None of these results bode well for US democracy and the country as a whole, especially as the divisions appear to be getting worse all the time with no end in sight.