Just how badly divided are the politically active people in the United States today? According to the latest numbers generated by Scott Rasmussen (not affiliated with Rasmussen Reports), it’s fairly grim out there. Given how much the political landscape seems to be shifting, this is a particularly interesting survey. People who are largely content and not worried about the future tend to be less politically active and engaged, but knowing what has the voters either riled up or alarmed can be a useful measuring stick heading into a midterm cycle, and these numbers will likely alarm the Democrats. The leading question was fairly simple, asking people what the biggest threat to the United States is today. The partisan divide in the answers couldn’t be more stark. In the opinion of Democrats, supporters of former President Donald Trump are the greatest threat facing the nation, and it’s a solid, majority opinion among members of Joe Biden’s party. Coming in a close second are their fellow Americans who are unvaccinated. Both of those categories beat out the threats of the Taliban, China, and Russia.
Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Democratic voters believe supporters of Donald Trump are a serious threat to the nation. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 56% of those in President Biden’s party also consider the unvaccinated a serious threat. That’s a higher level of concern than Democrats express about the Taliban (44% see it as a serious threat); China (44%), or Russia (37%).
These results help explain the tone and actions taken recently by President Biden.
Republicans and Independents have a much different view of the threats facing the nation.
So what do Republicans think are the greatest threats facing our country? If you guessed “the Democrats” or “Biden voters” you might be close, at least for second place, but it’s a lot more specific than simple party registration or candidate preference. Republicans ranked the biggest threats as follows:
- Taliban (66%)
- Defund the Police Activists (62%)
- China (58%)
That didn’t come as much of a surprise to me. It’s not a matter of thinking that everyone who votes with the Democrats or supports various liberal policies are a “threat” or somehow an “enemy of the people.” I’ve always seen them as simply people with a different point of view. Heck, I’m married to a liberal, feminist Democrat and we’ve seemed to get along okay. But the people who are out there trying to abolish the police or significantly tear them down are a different matter. They actually do present a unique, significant danger to the safety and welfare of all Americans and the basic fabric of our society. Also, previous polls have shown that rising crime rates are among the greatest concerns cited by voters. Those voters no doubt line up neatly with the survey respondents who picked Defund the Police Activists as a top concern.
Stepping away from the poll results broken down by party allegiance, the results for “all voters” gives you an indication of who is really in the minority here. 52% chose the Taliban, with China coming in second at 49. Defund the Police Activists scored 40%, while the unvaccinated only managed to ring up 39%. The liberal activists are decidedly in the minority here.
I just wanted to add a couple of anecdotal observations to these results for your consideration. First of all, these survey results seem to reflect the disconnect between the mainstream media and the public far more than the disconnect between any particular subset of voters. Because of my job, I wind up taking in a lot of cable news from several outlets on a daily basis, as well as reading the coverage from our larger newspapers and other media outlets. With a few notable exceptions, the tone of the coverage leans heavily toward hysterics and divisive rhetoric. Most of the liberal outlets – CNN in particular – simply can’t let go of Donald Trump nearly eight months after he returned to private life. It feels like an addiction even more than an obsession. Anything they can tag the Trump “brand” onto is uniformly painted as the heart of darkness and something to be shunned by decent people. They also push the idea of the vaccine-hesitant as some sort of conspiratorial threat to society on an hourly basis. No wonder this survey brought up those sorts of numbers among the Democrats who eat these stories up with a spoon.
But the other, perhaps more important point I wanted to make is that neither this poll nor the cable news coverage that all of us political junkies mainline on a daily basis actually reflects what’s going on out in the streets, at least as far as I can tell. While most of the country is no doubt keeping up with news about the pandemic as it could potentially impact the health of their families, there are a lot of Americans who are otherwise getting on with their lives. The suburb I live in is very diverse along most demographic lines and I know from the yard signs I see every four years that there’s a broad mix of Democrats, Republicans and independents around here. And yet I rarely hear anyone getting into political conversations. People are interested in sports, local affairs and what the weather will be like this weekend. Nobody is out on the street corners near my house screaming at each other about face masks, vaccination rates, or who stole the last election.
The people who tend to answer the phone for pollsters and sit through a lengthy list of questions are the same ones who are the most politically active (on either side) and addicted to Beltway news. A lot of people simply hang up when a pollster calls and get back to cleaning the rain gutters or whatever else is on their list of chores for the day. We have a heavily politically active segment of our population that is obviously deeply divided and the mainstream media butters its bread by feeding into those disputes. But most of the country isn’t really engaged in a civil war and I’m guessing they have a very low opinion of those who seem to want one.