The political discourse — or lack of it — has apparently become so caustic in the United States that 67% of those surveyed in a poll released Wednesday believe another civil war is imminent.
The poll was conducted by Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service as part of their annual Battleground Poll civility survey, and according to the institute’s executive director, the results could indicate that the 2020 election could be as divisive and explosive as the 1860 election that precipitated the Civil War of 1861-65.
”The majority of Americans believe that we are two-thirds of the way to being on the edge of civil war. That to me is a very pessimistic place,” Mo Elleithee told the Washington Examiner.
The survey showed that voters are not just dissatisfied with politics, they are angry. While Democratic dislike of President Donald Trump is hardening, Republicans show a similar dislike of the crop of leftist Democratic candidates vying for their party’s presidential nomination.
Although Trump’s approval rating has never been extraordinary, in September it was higher than predecessor President Barack Obama’s numbers were at the same stage in his first term. (RELATED: Trump On Immigration: No Issue Better Illustrates The Divide Between Political Class And Working Americans)
Elleithee told the Examiner that the poll “paints a scenario, a picture of a highly negative campaign that will continue to exacerbate the incivility in our public discourse.
The survey revealed a strange dichotomy in the current American political psyche. While 87% of respondents said they are repelled by the lack of civility in the political sphere, 84% said they are “tired of leaders compromising my values and ideals.”
According to Elleithee, this represents a new definition of compromise that expects your political opponents to change their minds and accept your beliefs. “It seems to me what they’re saying is, ‘I believe in common ground, it’s just that common ground is where I’m standing. As soon you move over to where I am we’ll be on common ground.’”
Ed Goeas, of the Terrance Group that contributed to the polling, said the survey found that few presidential candidates have high favorability rates, meaning the 2020 election could be decided on the basis of who is the least unpopular contestant. (RELATED: Cruz Blames Booker And Waters For Political Divide)
“There is going to be a large body of voters who dislike both of them, and that’s going to be the swing vote in the election, which means it dictates the kind of campaign that’s run,” Goeas told the Examiner.
Goeas doesn’t blame Trump for the corrosive politics of the hour. “He is a symptom of where we are, not ‘the’ disease,” he said, adding, “One of the things that I have focused on as we have gone into this death spiral of incivility in the country, that we had to be at a certain point for Trump to become acceptable.”
The pollsters surveyed 1,000 likely voters between Oct. 6-10.