Today's Edition Elections Local Missouri National World Opinion Obits Sports GoMidMo Events Classifieds Newsletters Contests Special Sections Jobs
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2020, file photo supporters react as President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Des Moines International Airport in Des Moines, Iowa. The overwhelming majority of voters believe the nation is deeply divided over its most important values and many have doubts about the health of the democracy itself. And supporters of President Donald Trump and Joe Biden alike think the opposing candidate will make things even worse if elected, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The overwhelming majority of voters believe the nation is deeply divided over its most important values, and many have doubts about the health of the democracy itself. Supporters of President Donald Trump and Joe Biden alike think the opposing candidate will make things even worse if elected, according to a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Overall, 85 percent of registered voters describe Americans as being greatly divided in their values, and only 15 percent say 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 percent say divisions would worsen if the Republican president were re-elected, 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 percent, 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 percent of Biden supporters and 80 percent 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 percent of Trump supporters say this of Biden, and 91 percent of Biden backers say this of Trump.

Related Article

Trump on defense, courting voters in two must-win states

Read more

About half of all voters say 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, three in 10 Trump supporters say democracy isn't working well. And at least eight 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 percent vs. 28 percent.

There also are dramatic differences in concerns about the pandemic — and views of Trump's response to it — based on political leanings.

Nearly six in 10 Biden supporters report being very worried they or someone in their family will be infected with the coronavirus, compared to just about two 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 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.

Related Article

GOP, Dems hope Supreme Court fight bolsters Senate prospects

Read more

Half of Trump supporters said the nation's diverse population "of many different races, ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds" makes the country stronger. About three in 10 Trump supporters said such diversity doesn't strengthen or weaken the nation, while about two in 10 say it makes the country weaker.

Among Biden supporters, 75 percent believe that diversity makes the country stronger.

Overall, Biden has an advantage over Trump as the candidate trusted to handle the coronavirus pandemic (52 percent to 28 percent), race relations (53 percent to 28 percent) and Supreme Court nominations (45 percent to 34 percent). Biden and Trump are competitive on the economy, gaining the trust of 43 percent and 42 percent, respectively. But each camp overwhelmingly trusts its own candidate over the other to handle key issues.

Noah Talbott, a 22-year-old unaffiliated voter who lives outside Richmond, Virginia, and works at Chick-fil-A, criticized Trump's leadership on several issues and blamed him for exacerbating political and racial divisions.

"I wouldn't say I'm proud to be an American right now," he said. "We're way too divided."

Talbott didn't vote four years ago but said he would vote for Biden this fall — a decision he described as "more of a vote against Trump" than for his Democratic challenger.

For all their differences, the poll found Biden and Trump supporters are about equally engaged in the campaign.

Conard, of Missouri, said he doesn't see an end to the divisions plaguing America, but he said it's in Trump's best interests to unify the nation. He plans to vote for the president on Election Day, believing that Biden has already had a chance after spending almost a half-century in Washington.

"One man had 47 years and he didn't get it done so you've got to look somewhere else," Conrad said. "Trump wants the country to do well. For it to do well and for him to look good, he's got to bring people together. And he can do it — at least, I hope he can."

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with our commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. Our commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT