Overall, 85 per cent of registered voters describe Americans as being greatly divided in their values, and only 15 per cent say that democracy in the United States is working extremely or very well. The poll shows voters overall are especially pessimistic about the impact of Trump’s reelection: 65 per cent say divisions would worsen if the Republican president were reelected, a number that includes a quarter of his supporters.
Thirty-five percent of voters believe Biden would divide the country further should he win the presidency. More, 47 per cent, think the country would be unified if the Democrat were elected. “Somebody’s got to unite our country,” said Gary Conard, a 64-year-old Republican who lives in Clever, Missouri. “I just think our society is confused and in trouble.”
The poll offers a window into the depth of the division and chaos shaping the American electorate less than three weeks before Election Day. Voters are sharply divided over several major issues based on their partisan lenses, including their personal safety during the coronavirus pandemic, the value of diversity and the health of American democracy.
The cavernous rift represents a daunting challenge for the winner of the November election, as voters from each side seem to agree only on one thing: the extent of their divisions. Fully 88 per cent of Biden supporters and 80 per cent of Trump supporters view Americans as greatly divided on important values. Supporters for both candidates think a win for the opposing side will worsen those divisions: 76 per cent of Trump supporters say this of Biden, and 91 per cent of Biden backers say this of Trump.
About half of all voters say that democracy in the United States is not working well, and about another third think it’s working only somewhat well.
Roughly twice as many Biden supporters as Trump supporters have a pessimistic view of the health of democracy.
Still, 3 in 10 Trump supporters say democracy isn’t working well. And at least 8 in 10 on both sides say the other candidate’s election would weaken democracy.
While Republicans fear the possibility of what Trump predicts without evidence will be a rigged election, Democrats are worried that inconsistent election laws, voter intimidation and Republican lawsuits will make it more difficult for their supporters to cast ballots given heightened health concerns during the pandemic.
The poll finds fewer than half of voters say they are highly confident that votes in the election will be counted accurately, but more Biden supporters than Trump supporters say that, 53 per cent vs. 28 per cent.
There also are dramatic differences in concerns about the pandemic – and views of Trump’s response to it – based on political leanings.
Nearly 6 in 10 Biden supporters report being very worried that they or someone in their family will be infected with the coronavirus, compared to just about 2 in 10 Trump supporters. Close to half of Trump supporters say they are not worried.
Linda Railey, a 73-year-old Republican who lives in rural Alexander City, Alabama, said she’s not worried about the pandemic because she and her husband are taking precautions like washing their hands, limiting contact with other people and wearing masks when they are in public. They only go to the grocery store and church, she said.
“I worry about it for other people,” Railey said, noting that she lives in a rural area about 15 minutes outside the nearest town. “We stay home as much as we can.” And as the nation struggles through intense clashes over civil rights, the poll highlights different views on the value of diversity.