Two in five Americans believe that a civil war in the United States is at least somewhat likely in the next decade. Considering the political orientation of the respondents, the idea is even stronger among Republicans than among Democrats.
The data is from a survey carried out by the polling company YouGov and the magazine The Economistwhich asked citizens about changes in the country’s political climate and what they expect in the future.
Asked about the probability of a civil war on American soil in the next ten years, participants could answer between very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely and not at all likely.
While 43% responded that a new civil war is very or somewhat likely in the next decade, 35% think not very or not at all likely. Another 22% are not sure.
Among those who identify as staunch Republicans, the percentage who believe in a civil war rises to 54% – with one in five saying it is very likely. Another 30% consider it not very or not at all likely, and 16% are unsure.
Among staunch Democrats, 40% said it was very or very likely, 39% not very or not very likely, and 21% were uncertain.
More division and political violence
The idea is linked to the way Americans view the political landscape in the US today, with most saying they believe polarization and political violence are on the rise and are only set to get worse.
Two-thirds of respondents (66%) believe political divisions have increased since the start of 2021, compared with just 8% who say the country has become less divided.
The outlook is not good for the near future. According to the survey, 63% believe that these divisions will increase in the coming years, while 7% think they will decrease.
GOP supporters are more likely to see society as divided. Among them, 79% think the political divide has widened since last year, and 72% predict it will widen in the coming years. Among Democrats, those percentages are 59% and 58%, respectively.
Respondents’ responses were similar when asked about political violence. Altogether, 65% responded that political violence has increased since the beginning of 2021, and only 8% believe it has decreased.
Furthermore, 62% think political violence will increase in the US over the next few years, compared to just 9% who believe it will decrease.
On January 6, 2021, the country witnessed an episode that became a symbol of political hostilities. Hundreds of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, the seat of the US Congress in Washington DC, during a session to confirm the victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Alleging fraud in the election, Republican Trump had instigated the crowd to walk up to the building.
Nine deaths, including police suicides, were linked to the attack. Since then, fears of political violence have increased in the United States.
The new poll comes on the heels of still heated rhetoric among supporters of Trump, who is now under investigation for withholding classified documents after leaving the White House. The materials were recovered by the FBI at the former president’s residence this month.
Last Sunday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham predicted “riots in the streets” if Trump is formally indicted in the case. The speech generated widespread rejection.
Mary McCord, a former deputy attorney general, told CNN that it was “incredibly irresponsible for an elected official to basically make thinly veiled threats of violence just because the police and the Justice Department do their jobs.”
According to McCord, saying that “people are angry and can become violent” shows “what Trump knows and what Lindsey Graham also knows: that people hear this and people actually mobilize and do things.” For her, “January 6 was the result of this same type of tactic by President Trump and his allies.”