Half of Americans expect to see a second U.S. civil war within years and nearly a fifth say they could one day be toting guns at a political face-off themselves, according to an alarming new study about the nation’s deepening divisions.
Researchers at University of California, Davis uncovered worrying levels of ‘alienation’, ‘mistrust’ and a growing tendency to turn to violence in their recently-conducted survey of 8,620 adults across the country.
More than two-thirds of respondents said they saw a ‘serious threat to our democracy’ and 50.1 percent agreed with the statement that ‘in the next few years, there will be civil war in the U.S.’
More than 40 percent said having a ‘strong leader’ was more important than democracy and that ‘native-born white people are being replaced by immigrants’ — a racist belief known as the ‘great replacement theory’.
Researchers also uncovered a growing inclination to settle political rows with violence.
Nearly a fifth of respondents said it was likely they would be ‘armed with a gun’ at a political flash point in the coming years, while 4 percent said it was likely they would ‘shoot someone with a gun’.
Garen Wintemute, a university public health expert who warns of growing gun ownership rates and led the study, said his findings were ‘pretty grim’ and ‘exceeded our worst expectations’.
Still, there was ‘ground for hope’ as most respondents ‘rejected political violence altogether’, added Wintemute.
The study was a wake-up call for people to ‘recognize the threat’ and respond, he added.
The 42-page document described a ‘continuing alienation from and mistrust of American democratic society and its institutions’.
‘Substantial minorities of the population endorse violence, including lethal violence, to obtain political objectives,’ it said.
It comes in the wake of mass shootings, including the killing in May of 10 black people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, allegedly by a white gunman who wrote a screed endorsing ‘great replacement theory’.
Other key moments in America’s violence-tinged culture wars include the January 6 Capitol riot, Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shooting two people at an anti-racism protest in Wisconsin in August 2020 and the frequent clashes between cops and Black Lives Matter activists.
A similar study by Tulchin Research and the Southern Poverty Law Center last month found that 44 percent of Americans said the U.S. was headed toward another civil war.
A YouGov survey last week highlighted growing calls for a break-up of the U.S.
A third of former president Donald Trump’s fans living in Republican states said they would be ‘better off’ if their state split and became an independent country. Another 29 percent of Trump fans said such a secession would leave them ‘worse off’.
More than 600,000 soldiers lost their lives during the American Civil War from 1861-1865, when southern states fought to break from the union and maintain their slave-driven plantation economies.