New political survey finds US is increasingly 'two nations in one'

October 13, 2016 by Jane Kelly, University of Virginia

A new University of Virginia survey, conducted by the Gallup organization, reveals Americans' deep dissatisfaction with the country's political culture, personified by the leading candidates for president, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Commissioned by UVA's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, the "2016 Survey of American Political Culture" is based on 1,904 telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of American adults. It provides a granular picture of some of the underlying dynamics of American political culture today – dynamics researchers say are likely to shape democratic life through the early years of the 21st century.

Speaking Wednesday at Gallup headquarters in Washington, James Davison Hunter, the institute's executive director, said the unprecedented public disaffection exhibited during the election campaign season reflects a deep fault line between the general American electorate and the political establishment.

He said this chasm is marked by mistrust of government, cynicism toward leaders and personal alienation. Hunter cited survey findings that confirm these levels of disaffection:

  • Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the American public has little to no confidence that the government in Washington will actually solve the problems it sets its mind to solve.
  • Vast majorities of those polled believe that most politicians are more interested in winning elections than in doing what is right, and that while the system of government is good, the people running it are incompetent.
  • Significant majorities agree most elected officials don't care what they think and that they don't have any say about what the government does.

In addition, two-thirds of those polled said they have little or no confidence that people in government will tell the truth. That is up six percentage points from a similar survey conducted by the institute in 1996.

The new poll also exposes deepening worries about the United States' two-party system. Sixty-four percent of those polled believe that what American really needs is a new political party, because the current two-party system isn't working. More than half of all Democrats (53 percent) and Republicans (56 percent) hold this view, but three out of four (74 percent) of the growing number of independents are especially adamant about this.

Hunter said this year's election brings into relief that America is, in some ways, two nations within one. "Each nation has its own values and visions of what the country represents," he said. "Trump and Clinton are highly symbolic, like flags around which each nation, or tribe, mobilizes."

To be sure, policy differences between supporters of one candidate and supporters of another exist in every election cycle. What is different this year, the institute's survey reveals, is the breadth and depth of those differences – the cultural chasm separating the Trump and Clinton nations.

Also appearing Wednesday at Gallup headquarters, Carl Desportes Bowman, the survey research director, enumerated several other findings of the poll.

  • Seventy-three percent of all Americans believe the economic system is rigged in favor of the wealthiest Americans.
  • Sixty-two percent of the American public agrees that the leaders in American corporations, media, universities and technology care little about the lives of most Americans.
  • Nearly three out of four Americans (73 percent) believe that political correctness is a serious problem in our country, making it hard for people to say what they really think.

Bowman said that surprisingly, some of the disaffections enumerated in the survey results are less pronounced among minorities. For example, when asked to rate their confidence in the United States government, Bowman said both blacks and Hispanics exude greater confidence in government.

"In general, whites are twice as likely as blacks and Hispanics to be very distrustful of the government on a variety of measures," he writes in the poll analysis.

In the analysis conclusion, the researchers write, "The candidates in the 2016 election have become potent symbols of different dispositions toward the world and different aspirations for its future. These dramatic differences point to the decline of a shared civic culture that provided a basis for compromise, set limits on partisan disagreements and made possible the broad governing consensus that historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called the 'vital center.'"

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5 / 5 (2) Oct 13, 2016
The two nations are basically the people who produce and the people who collect government checks.

As a corollary:

1) Immigration occurs when people migrate to another country, find gainful employment, learn the language of their host country, and adopts its culture and customs.

2) Invasion occurs when people migrate to another country, collect government checks, congregate in their own ethnic ghettos, refuse to learn the language of their host country, and expect their host country to adopt their culture and customs and abandon their own.
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 13, 2016
The two nations are basically the people who produce and the people who collect government checks
-which began back when communal farming was developed, and a very few people could grow enough food to feed everybody. An idle class was created which had nothing to do but reproduce and argue about it.

And sooner than ever, there was not enough food to feed everybody.

This should give an idea of why the human race has been in so much trouble for so long.

Leaders struggled to find solutions. They put sizable portions of the pop to work building religious megaprojects and great walls. They created standing armies and then staged wars of mutual annihilation. And they simply murdered them en masse in religious ceremonies, pogroms, holodomors, and final solutions.

So now we have prenatal infanticide to the tune of 1BILLION since 1973, which is the quietest of the alternatives.
5 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2016
I have never seen a study before that totally describes our nation as it is today. We are literally 2 nations with so many issues that have no possibility of compromise. It's a scary situation. I truly fear we are close to civil war.
2.3 / 5 (6) Oct 13, 2016
"An idle class was created which had nothing to do but reproduce and argue about it."

We see them here.

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