New Poll: Forty-Three Percent Of Voters Believe America Is Headed Toward A New Civil War

October 30, 2018

Simon Wiesenthal Center Study Finds American Society ‘Fractured to Its Core’

The Simon Wiesenthal Center today released results from a survey of nearly 2,000 registered voters on their perceptions of the current political climate and its impact on American society. Conducted in early September -- before the Brett Kavanaugh controversy reached a fever pitch – the survey’s findings should stand as a wake-up for all Americans.

Specifically, the survey found that 43 percent of voters believe the United States is heading toward a new civil war. The survey also found a correlation between heavy social media use and concern over a possible civil war, including 53 percent of the respondents, who said they “always” use social media, and 44 percent of those who said they use social media “daily.”

More than 60% of the respondents said they were either “extremely” or “very” concerned with both the tone of debate and the inability of people who disagree on political issues to have civil conversations. In fact, one-in-three respondents said they are less likely to attend family events and one-in-four say they have lost a friend over political differences.

“It’s clear that we are entering a danger zone, if we aren’t already there,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of The Simon Wiesenthal Center. “History has taught us that once division and hostile rhetoric reach a tipping point, the consequences are catastrophic.

“The combination of a 24/7 news cycle, sheer volume of content, and speed of transmission due to social media have created echo chambers that are unprecedented in their intensity. If our leaders at the very top and talking heads on both ends of the political spectrum do not tone it down very soon, this powder keg will quite possibly explode.”

According to the survey, 45 percent of the electorate blames the executive branch for the hostile climate that has emerged. Twenty-one percent believe that mainstream media is to blame, while 16 percent point to Congress.

“More than 80 percent of the voting public blames either the presidency, mainstream media or congress, and it breaks down roughly along party lines,” Rabbi Hier said. “Democrats and independents believe the executive branch is the problem. Republicans blame mainstream media and, to a lesser extent, congress.

“America’s strength has always been our ability to have intense disagreements while still seeing the humanity in those who do not share our views. Clearly, we have lost that and American society is now fractured to its core. We cannot say whether our political leaders and the media are the cause or symptom of a decay in civility, but leadership matters in times like these – and our survey shows the American people are begging for it.”

View survey here

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