Poll: 71% of Americans say politics has reached a dangerous low point

Posted at 4:37 PM, Oct 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-28 16:37:55-04

Amid a growing partisan gap between Democrats and Republicans, a new poll shows that 71% of Americans believe the country’s politics have reached a dangerous low point in the Trump era.

According to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll released Saturday, only 29% said they believed this period in American politics is “similar to most periods of disagreement.” And the majority of participants who said politics have reached a dangerous low point said the climate is a “new normal,” not “temporary.”

Some 70% of those polled from September 27 through October 5 said divisions today are at least as big as they were during the Vietnam War era. For individuals polled who were adults during the Vietnam War, the percentage was higher than the average — 77%.

A majority of those polled, 51%, said President Donald Trump deserves “a lot” of the blame for the dysfunction in the American political system, below the share placing as much blame on money in politics (65%), wealthy donors (56%) or people with extreme views (56%), but above the share putting a lot of blame on either party (38% for Republicans, 32% for Democrats) or members of Congress (47%).

In addition, 49% place “a lot” of blame on the news media for causing the dysfunction, and the same percentage say social media bears much of the responsibility.

A majority, 63%, say they are proud of the way democracy works in America, but that’s a low point compared to past polling, with the share of those who aren’t proud doubling in just three years, from 18% in 2014 to 36% now, according to the Post’s report on the poll. In addition, 42% of those polled said Trump’s election was not legitimate, including two-thirds of Democrats and 9% of Republicans. That compares to about 14 percent who said former President Barack Obama’s election in 2008 wasn’t legitimate.

And those polled said dysfunction is rampant across the federal government, with 70% saying the Trump administration is dysfunctional, 80% saying so about Congress, and 56% saying so about the overall system of checks and balances.

The Washington Post-University of Maryland poll was conducted from September 27 through October 5, with 1,663 adults interviewed by land line, cell phone and online. The margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.