Reader Charles called my attention to a CBS/YouGov poll showing the disparity between Republicans and Democrats in whether they see the number of American deaths from coronavirus acceptable or unacceptable. The results were frightening:
Note that the latest toll of Americans killed by coronavirus, reported in the Hili dialogue this morning, is 176,694. That is more than three times the number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War (total 58,220, of which 47,434 were killed in battle). Only 10 % of Democrats find that total acceptable, but 57% of Republicans do, while 90% of Dems find the total unacceptable compared to 43% of Republicans. Two-third of Independents find the total unacceptable, about halfway between Dems and Republicans.
Now it’s not clear what “acceptable” means, but given that quicker and more stringent action would have saved more lives, and that the Trump administration—and a lot of Republican governors—have hardly taken the lead here, I think the objective assessment is “unacceptable”, meaning, “could have been reduced strongly with better action.” (Of course, many people don’t comply with restrictions, but I suspect those are heavily Republican as well.) The divide, of course, reflects the GOP’s approbation for Trump.
The data above, and that below, are taken from a poll of 2,226 registered voters.
Here are some statistics splitting Republicans from “all registered voters”:
But the divide gets worse. Have a look at these differences, which I found on a CBS website. Is the U.S. economy really better, what with unemployment way up and many businesses closed, some for good? Republicans think so, attributing our “success” largely to Trump:
There’s also a huge divide, in the expected direction, on the issue of “discrimination”, which I take as “emphasis on race”:
The good news is that Biden is still maintaining the national 10-point lead among all “likely voters” that he’s had in recent weeks, though Republicans may get a post-convention bounce:
And more good news: the Democratic Convention swayed people more towards Biden:
And, as several readers have mentioned, the approbation for Biden among Democrats seems to be driven more by dislike of Trump than by the Democrats’ political positions, which weren’t laid out all that clearly during the convention. However, since the goal of bouncing Trump from the White House is more important than forging an acceptable political platform—the Dems do have one, and it’s much better than the 2016 Republican platform (the GOP isn’t producing a new platform for 2020)—I don’t much care:
You can see more data, as well as a description of the polling methods, at the CBS site.
Never in my life have I seen polarization this strong, and there’s no reason to expect it to go away. I’m not exactly sure why things are so divided now, but it portends poorly for the passage of legislation should Biden win and the GOP keeps the Senate. (CNN sees a Democratic Senate as possible if not likely.) If the Senate becomes majority-Democratic, well, we can then be happy and hope that Biden and Congress pass some good legislation. But of course if they do, the polarization will only increase.
I’ve lived through the eras of Reagan, Nixon, and both Bushes, but I’ve never seen the electorate not only so divided, but also with each party so hostile to the other. Trump, of course, makes his living by tossing gasoline on those flames, and I can’t imagine how long it will take America to recover from the tribalism—if ever.