Seventy-seven percent of Americans, a new high, believe the nation is divided on the most important values, while 21% believe it is united and in agreement. Over the past 20+ years, the public has tended to perceive the nation as being more divided than united, apart from two surveys conducted shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The latest poll was conducted Nov. 9-13 after a contentious presidential campaign involving the two of the least popular candidates in postwar U.S. history, and as protests erupted nationwide in response to Donald Trump’s victory.
All major subgroups of Americans share the view that the nation is divided, though Republicans (68%) are less likely to believe this than independents (78%) and Democrats (83%). That is consistent with the findings in the past two polls, conducted after the 2004 and 2012 presidential elections, in which the winning party’s supporters were less likely to perceive the nation as divided.
Public Not Convinced Trump Will Unite the Country
Americans are split about evenly on whether Trump will do more to unite the country (45%) or do more to divide it (49%). These views largely follow party lines, with 88% of Republicans believing Trump will do more to unite the country and 81% of Democrats saying he will do more to divide it. Independents predict Trump will do more to divide (51%) than to unite the country (43%).
Gallup has asked this question on a few prior occasions, including in November 2004 after George W. Bush was re-elected, in February 2008 during the presidential primaries, and in November 2012 after Barack Obama was re-elected. Americans are less optimistic about Trump bringing the country together than they were about Bush and Obama in those instances.
By 57% to 39%, Americans in 2004 thought Bush would do more to unite the country than to divide it. Americans responded similarly about Obama in November 2012, with 55% saying he would unite the country and 42% divide it. Americans were even more optimistic about Obama bringing the country together (66%) when he was campaigning in the Democratic presidential primaries in early 2008.
As with Trump, perceptions of whether Presidents Obama and Bush would unite the country largely fell along party lines. But independents were more inclined to see Obama and Bush as uniters than they are to see Trump this way.
SOURCE: Jeffrey M. Jones