Right as July 4 rolls around, a new poll has some startling news about the country's political situation. You might already know this intuitively as you head out to buy hotdogs, fire crackers, and s'mores for this Independence Day, but thanks to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll, it's now official: Americans of all political stripes think that civility has gotten worse in Washington, D.C., since Trump took office.
In a time when partisanship reigns supreme, it's amazing that Americans agree on anything. According to the poll, a total of 70 percent of Americans surveyed think that "the overall tone and level of civility in Washington between Republicans and Democrats" has gotten worse since Election Day. On the other hand, just 6 percent think it has improved. When you break that down by party affiliation it doesn't look all that different, either. For Democrats, it's 81 percent; for independents, it's 70 percent; and for Republicans, it's 65 percent — still a solid majority.
In fact, breaking down those polled by just about every demographic group, a majority easily responded that the civility had "gotten worse." The other options were "improved," "stayed the same," or "unsure." Tea Party supporters, Trump supporters, and respondents of all income levels, races, ages, genders, and more agreed. Like I said, this is something one of a kind, that all Americans seem to be agreeing upon — like reading Huckleberry Finn in school or making some form of dip to eat during the Super Bowl half time show.
According to the Marist Poll, the survey was conducted by telephone on 1,205 adults who are living in the United States. All conversations were conducted in English and respondents were contacted on both landline and mobile numbers. They selected respondents at random via cell but in proportion to population. To cover gaps in the people that were randomly contacted by cell phone, they used landlines. All of the data was then combined to match the American Community Survey estimates for "age, gender, income, race, and region." Statistically there's about a 2.8 percentage point margin of error.
As for the surprisingly negative outlook results, they are far worse than when President Obama was elected in 2008. The poll the following summer showed that 35 percent of Americans thought that civility had "gotten worse." More thought it stayed the same, with 42 percent, and another 21 percent actually thought it had improved.
Also worrisome is low numbers of trust in different American institutions. Despite Trump's constant attacks on the CIA and FBI, the intelligence community is doing quite well with a majority of Americans saying they have a "good amount" or "great deal" of trust in the agencies.
The courts also scored relatively well. But fair elections are about split, while opinion polls, the Trump Administration, Congress, and the media all did quite poorly. These areas are split more along partisan grounds. Fair elections for example scores lower among Democrats than Republicans right now.
Whether this should truly worry you as an American is a matter of opinion. Something to keep in mind at least is another poll released Tuesday by NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist Poll. Only 77 percent of Americans know the country that we declared independence from. Some 15 percent were unsure and another 8 percent named a country other than Great Britain.