- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 6, 2022

A new poll finds that most U.S. likely voters believe American society and culture is in decline — including large majorities of self-identified Democrats, Republicans and independents.

The survey by the Trafalgar Group revealed that 76.8% of respondents from all political affiliations said that “American society and culture is in a state of decay,” compared to only 9.8% who said “a state of progress.” The remaining 13.4% said they were unsure.

Voters on both sides of the aisle are unhappy with the current state of hot-button social and culture war issues for different reasons, said pollster Robert Cahaly, who founded Trafalgar Group in 2016.

“Social and cultural decline is in the eye of the beholder, but what’s clear is that everyone is unhappy,” Mr. Cahaly said. “People on the left think America isn’t ‘woke’ enough despite the pushback and people on the right think America is too ‘woke’ in a way that’s being pushed on them.”

There’s also a middle segment of voters whose views are reflected by comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, who the pollster noted has announced he won’t do skits on college campuses anymore for fear of getting “canceled.”

“There’s a mix of people in the middle, like Bill Maher, who like the ‘woke agenda’ but maybe think things have gone a little too far,” Mr. Cahaly said.

Voters are particularly unhappy with the state of culture clashes on race, gender, sexuality, income inequality, government and the environment.

“People feel like everywhere they turn, there’s an agenda being pushed on them, and they fear it’s going in a direction they don’t want to see,” he said. “For example, average people want clean air and clean water, but they don’t want to pay $4 for gas.”

Trafalgar’s poll found that most likely Democrat, Republican and independent voters believe the nation’s culture and society is crumbling, though the share of Republicans who felt that way was much larger than the other two groups.

Mr. Cahaly said the divisive state of national politics has contributed to voters from both parties finding a rare common ground with their discontent.

“Politicians on both sides have gotten to the point where they don’t have rational conversations with each other and the emotion is so high,” he said. “We’re at a crossroads and it’s going to settle somewhere in the middle eventually, but our politics are so binary right now that it’s making a lot of people unhappy.”

The survey echoes several recent polls that show a majority of Americans believe the U.S. to be in serious trouble for different reasons.

An NPR/Ipsos poll released Monday found that 64% of Americans believe U.S. democracy is “in crisis and at risk of failing,” with larger percentages of Republicans saying so because of their belief that “voter fraud helped Joe Biden win the 2020 election.” That poll was conducted Dec. 17-20.

An Economist/YouGov poll released Wednesday found that 61% of registered voters believe the country is on the wrong track.

As of Thursday morning, Real Clear Politics finds that an average of 63.6% of U.S. respondents to all recent polls believe the country is heading in the wrong direction.

Other polls suggest voters feel concerned they will lose their jobs if they express the wrong political, social or cultural opinions. Last March, a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll showed 64% of respondents felt there was a “growing cancel culture” threatening their freedom.

The new Trafalgar poll found that 61% of Democrats, 81.8% of independent voters and 85.9% of Republicans agree that American culture and society is decaying.

Mirroring likely voter turnout demographics, 39.3% of respondents in the poll identified as Democrats, 35.6% as Republicans and 25.1% as independents. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.99% at the 95% confidence level.

The firm distributes its survey questionnaires using a mixed methodology of live callers, integrated voice response, text messages, emails and two other proprietary digital methods that it doesn’t share publicly.

The survey of 1,076 likely general election voters was conducted Dec. 17-21. The poll was conducted on behalf of the nonprofit Convention of States Action, which advocates for returning federal powers to the states.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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